First, let's talk about the controversy. Some say Harper Lee did not authorize this publication, that she was hoodwinked by her conniving lawyer who was snooping around and found the manuscript and got great big dollar signs in her eyes. This may be true. It also may be true that Harper Lee is old and tired and thought, oh why not. Let them have it. My guess is that the truth lies, as it usually does, somewhere in the middle. But regardless, we have it now. And I'm going to throw it out there that it's the biggest thing to happen to American literature in our lifetime. So boycott it if you will (I've heard of several people who are) but we'll never know the truth and I couldn't pass it up.
Also, it's a good book. Even without any nostalgia attached to it, it's a good stand-alone book. It needs some editing. Apparently there was very little done to what they found. There are some rambling bits and arcane references that would have been smoothed over had a guiding hand been involved. But all in all, I enjoyed it very much. And how can you not be nostalgic about it? Nearly everyone we love is there.. Scout (now Jean Louise) is 26 and living in New York and comes home for two weeks to check in on Atticus who is old and rheumatic. Calpurnia, Jem, and Dill all show up in some form. There are several flashbacks that were just as charming as anything in Mockingbird. It was the flashbacks, in fact, that made it so clear why Lee's publishers declined this book and asked her to write something about Scout as a child. Her feistiness was much more appealing as a child then as an adult.
But it's her feistiness that propels the story along once she finds out that her dad is a racist. Yep, the hysterical reviews were right. Atticus is a racist. He says some really horrible shocking things. Things that truly turned my stomach. Although it is not any different from what any other white southern man in the 1950s was saying. Which makes this a much more realistic book then TKAM. I mentioned earlier that I was afraid I was going to have to think of Atticus as being from some alternate universe. Bizzaro Atticus. But that was not the case. He was the same sweet, patient, honorable man. The pain of his newly revealed beliefs was both compounded and eased by Scout feeling the exact same way as I did. Every generation changes perspective on social issues. Scout said plenty of things in the book that if said today would end up on the internet and get her fired. We're all flawed.
So there you go. Let me know when I should schedule the book club. I'm dying to talk to people about this.