Dear Harper Lee (and all your editors and publishers, both past and present),
Thank you for your brilliance. Thank your for sharing your insights, experiences and observations of southern life, and a troubled period of our nation’s history, in a way that brings us in with unsettling, heartbreaking honesty, but also with tenderness, humor, and profound grace.
Thank you for To Kill a Mockingbird, a book which touched my young and developing soul and helped shape my character, my life. A book which has shaped generations and will continue to hold a mirror before our eyes, forcing us to see who we are and who we would be.
And thank you for Go Set a Watchman. Your reluctance to share it with the world is understandable. First drafts, second drafts, third, fifth, tenth. They are wrenching, painful works in progress.
Yes! This word. This phrase. No! Not that. This is better here. Scratch this idea entirely. This character must go. And this one, look at how she is changing right before my eyes!
Ah, it seems the editing is never finished. And yet, here we are allowed a glimpse into your process. A glimpse into the mind of your genius.
You may not have been pleased with the manuscript. Indeed, your finished product is the preferred one. But this. This contains so many gems. So many snippets of beauty that needed to be brought into the light.
These two books, so very different in content, style and message, are important books for our lives. Mockingbird is a map for our formative years. As childhood innocence and hope come face to face with the ugliness of this world, Scout, Atticus, and Boo remind us that unconditional love, basic human kindness and struggles for justice will prevail.
Watchman is a guide for our later, perhaps more cynical years. When we have learned that those we love may not be all we once thought, when disillusionment rips at our souls and relationships threaten to crumble, Jean Louise, Atticus and Uncle Jack show us the path to understanding and reconciliation and purpose for our sometimes faltering steps.
So, thank you, dear Ms Harper Lee. For you have once again been a blessing to us.