Your first time reading To Kill a Mockingbird was probably in middle school, and you most likely devoured it in .5 seconds, reading your library copy on the bus and during recess, and at the dinner table. Years after you were assigned to read the novel, you couldn’t forget the iconic story about a mysterious neighbor, racial injustice, and the loss of innocence. To Kill a Mockingbird inevitably changed you, shaped the way you think about social justice and American history, the way you view altruism in strangers, and most importantly, the way literature can have such a profound affect on people. Which is why this news about Harper Lee’s sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird is such incredible, gob-smacking news.
The sequel, Go Set a Watchman, was actually written in 1950s but was never published. According to publisher Jonathan Burnham, “The existence of Go Set a Watchman was unknown until recently, and its discovery is an extraordinary gift.” The novel will take place 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, according to New York Times, and is set in the same place —the fictional Maycomb, Alabama. In Go Set a Watchman, Scout Finch returns to the small town to visit Atticus.
Why didn’t Harper Lee publish the sequel shortly after she had originally written it? She just didn’t want to. Or maybe she was unsure. I can’t question Lee’s creative process, since I kind of get her trepidation to publish. The pressure to write and publish a second novel just as brilliant as the first is very real, and very scary.
But once Lee’s friend and lawyer discovered the manuscript for Go Set a Watchman, Lee was finally persuaded to release her masterpiece into the wild world of literature. And for this, we are infinitely grateful. Harper Lee said, “After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”
We’ll be able to buy a copy on July 14th of this year. Summer can’t come soon enough.