Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee: I was hesitant about reading this book because I love To Kill a Mockingbird and I’d read mixed reviews about this new look into the lives of Jean Louise (Scout) and Atticus Finch. While in many ways it reads like a first draft rather than a finished piece I still enjoyed reading it. The story picks up 20 years after the close of To Kill a Mockingbird when Jean Louise returns home to Maycomb for a few weeks to visit her father and finds that her town and family are struggling to change and adapt amidst the turbulence of 1950’s America. Where Mockingbird is told from the perspective of a 6-year old that worships her father, Watchman is told from the perspective of an adult Jean Louise as she learns that her father isn’t perfect and that everyone must eventually learn to make their own decisions. I enjoyed following Jean Louise’s journey as she learns to love her town and family even when they disagree.
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines: Jefferson, a young black man, is convicted of murder and sentenced to death in a small Cajun community in the 1940’s. His aunt enlists Grant, a plantation school teacher, to teach Jefferson how to die like a man. The reluctant relationship between the two men turns into a bond forged in compassion, understanding and heroism as they defy expectations. This story was beautiful and heartbreaking and definitely worth reading.
Next on my list to read? Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, a look into how our mindset can impact our success in life.