All anyone can talk about in the world of book nerds right now is the upcoming publication of Harper Lee’s lost novel “Go Set a Watchman.” Written as her first novel, her editor suggested she rewrite it from the perspective of a young Scout. “To Kill A Mockingbird” was the result of this advice, would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize, and be on every school reading list for the past 50+ years, selling 30 million copies to date. In February 2015, the original “Watchman” manuscript was discovered by Ms. Lee’s attorney. It was announced that the famously reclusive author had given her permission to publish the book, a prequel/sequel if you will, that focuses on an adult Scout (Jean Louise) visiting her father in their hometown of Maycomb. The publisher, Harper Collins, ordered a staggering 2 million copies to be printed, in addition to the innumerable e-book downloads.
The release of this book has not been without controversy of course. Did Ms. Lee, who has not spoken to the press since 1964 and is well-known for eschewing her celebrity status, really want this book published or was she possibly taken advantage of in her senior years by her agent, lawyer, and publishing house. An in-depth investigation by the state of Alabama revealed that was not the case, but questions still linger regarding this. Today, a first look at chapter one of the new book was released by the Wall Street Journal, offering at least one bombshell in the story. And for the next four days, Harper Lee’s many fans wait in anticipation to find the answers to countless questions: what happened to Scout, is Atticus still the same every man hero he was portrayed as in TKAMB, does Dill still visit Maycomb, and what about that evil Ewell family?
Here we are in 2015, talking about something as simple as a book that is set back in the 1950s. Even with Comic Con in full swing in San Diego, the biggest topic of conversation right now is “Watchman.” Harper Lee’s name is one of the top trending searches on all social media sites. Not bad for an 89-year-old lady! It speaks to the passion of my fellow book nerds who literally burst into tears every time we reread the line “Hey, Boo.” As July 14 quickly approaches, bookstores around the country are preparing for events, midnight openings, and read-a-thons to celebrate the release of this book, reminding so many of the Harry Potter midnight party craze. All over a simple book that revisits beloved characters who made us realize who we wanted to be in this world, and encouraged us to be decent and kind and understanding of each other, and to never judge a book by its cover.