Tears and Laughter: Well, have you read it yet?

Ok, it has been just over a week…have you had time to read it yet? Or have you heard so much about it you feel like you already have? Living so close to Monroeville, I guess we all should. I did. It took 27 hours and 2 Advil, but I finished it.

I hurried because I didn’t want to chance hearing anything that would accidentally spoil the ending. And if you haven’t read it yet, don’t worry. I’m not going to ruin it for you either. There isn’t anything that could spoil that ending.

Even with the initial reviews advising readers that this was no To Kill A Mockingbird coming down the pike, it just wasn’t enough of a warning. Portions of it did pull me in and hold me, but I’ll be honest, I don’t think it was initially rejected on account of Atticus being a racist. It wasn’t because of Lee’s fluent use of the N-word or having the Klan meeting in the beloved old courtroom. It was rejected, I would think, because parts of it make the reader uncomfortable, other parts are gross, and some of it would have been worth skipping over. Portions of it are a wreck with too much bad dialogue.

Don’t take me wrong, I was excited about the release. I preordered a copy and planned far ahead of time to be in Monroeville on June 14.

I wanted my entire family to go, but even after my enthusiastic pitch about the Chamber’s plans to serve teacakes and lemonade on the town square, my son said he would pass. I told McKenzie there would be a public reading, and she asked me not to drag her to it.

Justin, who has a way with words in his own right, said I was the only person he knew that had mentioned it. He said he had read about it in the Monroe Journal and knew it had gained national attention, but he didn’t know anybody all that excited about it and he has friends at work who drive over from Monroeville every day.

So I spent last Tuesday in Monroeville. It was a fun day. Everybody was very much caught up in the energy surrounding the release, being friendly and socializing with one another. Just being our Southern selves I suppose…any excuse to throw a party. Reports claim Lee may have two other completed novels she could allow to be published. I can’t wait to celebrate them too!

In Go Set A Watchman, she wrote that the Devil himself is found right there in ‘Maycomb.’ I don’t know if the Devil was in Monroeville mingling with the other character last Tuesday. I didn’t see him, but it was certainly hot enough to make him feel at home.

As I was leaving I notice in my rearview a big man bent over panting on the sidewalk out in front of the Sweet Tooth Bakery. His hands were on his knees and his face was as pink as his shirt. What looked to be his wife and a friend, maybe her sister, were walking ahead of him. When he stopped, they kept going not noticing.

I keep thinking back to him. I hope he thinks the book was worth it.

There is a huge billboard on the way downtown that reads, “Thank you, Miss Lee.” Over the years there has been ample controversy concerning Lee’s rumored hard feelings toward Monroeville for benefitting off of To Kill A Mockingbird. After reading Watchman…I would say they are about even now.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era – https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.