Despite all the hype, I didn’t really want to read this book. I don’t tend to read books about the South, and considering this was rejected by the publishers at the time it was originally written, it just didn’t sound all that worthwhile.
However, I joined a book group earlier this year, and the organizer suggested we read To Kill a Mockingbird first and follow up with this. And given that I felt bad for suggesting the previous book choice (Uncle Tom’s Cabin, what was I thinking?!), I agreed.
I don’t want to get into any plot details, but I will say that the publishers were right when they advised Ms. Lee to try something else out. She ended up doing a lot better with her second attempt, and this one shouldn’t have been published, then or now.
The story just rambles around and is quite boring in parts, then switches into being too heavy-handed and irritating in other parts. The characters don’t feel very real or interesting, especially given how overdone some of the conversation is. And the spoilers from the media are true, though they do tie in with a larger message later on.
If you’re a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird and want to see the early beginnings of that book, go for it. If you’re an academic or like studying literature or learning how writers work out stories, read away. But don’t read it as a sequel to what is a much better book. Let it stand on its own, or take it for what it is: a poor first draft.