The Parthenon

Don’t take advantage of my favorite author

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Was the choice to release Harper Lee’s ‘Mockingbird’ sequel a good one and her own?

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A few weeks ago, Harper Lee made a major announcement that she is releasing a sequel to her famous and only novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird” this summer.

The new book will be called “Go Set a Watchman” and takes place in the beloved town of Maycomb, 20 years after Mockingbird ends. Scout Finch, the former protagonist, will narrate the story again and feature many of the old characters in her new tale. She will travel back to her hometown from New York to visit her aging father and confront some of her own personal and political beliefs.

The main reason for my concern about the new book is the suddenness of its publication. Lee wrote the novel about 60 years ago, right after she finished “Mockingbird,” but chose not to release it. And now, after her sister’s death, the manuscript has been found and set to release in July.

Her sister used to care for her estate and keep an eye out for Lee, but now that she is gone, the book has been discovered and prepared to hit bookshelves. Excited as I may be, this whole situation seems a bit off to me. How could Harper Lee be persuaded so quickly? Sixty years is an awful long time to have a book written.

I really don’t want my favorite author to be pressured into something she doesn’t want to do. There must be a reason why Lee chose to never publish Watchman before. ”

— Bri Shelton

As much as I love “To Kill a Mockingbird” and want to read more of Lee’s work, I worry the famous author may have been taken advantage of. The woman is 88 and has not been in the best health for many years. Recent reports have also discussed her memory loss and how it has affected her interactions with fans. If the woman has suffered this much, health-wise, is she really sound enough to sign a publishing contract or even negotiate? It seems like a vastly different decision than the one she has kept throughout the years.

I really don’t want my favorite author to be pressured into something she doesn’t want to do. There must be a reason why Lee chose to never publish Watchman before. Maybe she thought the book wouldn’t live up to the success of Mockingbird. Maybe fame was not something the introverted author wanted to live in. Whatever her reasons, I definitely wonder about this novel and how it came to be. Who talked her into launching such a major book? Was this something she had considered for a while, or something someone suddenly convinced her to do?

Whatever the case may be, I am anxious to see how this all plays out.

Bri Shelton can be contacted at [email protected]

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