Harper Lee's Comeback

In little Monroeville, Alabama, there’s a huge fan base that is rebuilding over the announcement of Harper Lee’s second book in the making, “Go Set a Watchman.” Being Lee’s hometown, there has always been much pride and celebration over “To Kill a Mockingbird” in this town, and they take it as an honor to be associated with such an impactful American author.

During April and May, Monroeville is busy with tourists traveling from all over the country for “play season,” a time when Lee’s novel is reenacted into a play on the weekends, bringing in huge revenue for their little town. There are people that have literally traveled from all over the south, as well as international visitors. Fans have flocked from Texas, Indiana, Florida, and Louisiana, as well as a group of dedicated fans coming from Sweden. The drama takes place in front of the courthouse, much like the one that is mentioned in the book. The amateur actors enjoy putting on an impactful and influential show.

Performances sold out faster than ever this year, with 4,000 tickets gone in just five days. This excitement and hype from Harper Lee fans is probably due to the announcement of “Go Set a Watchman” in February. Monroeville shop owners are expecting a continuation of excitement in their town for the upcoming months, and the small businesses, bookstores, and restaurants are preparing for the flood of Mockingbird fans.

Due to the popularity that “Go Set a Watchman” has already gained, bookshop owner Spencer Madrie has preordered 5,000 copies of “Go Set a Watchman,” and is expecting to have a total of 15,000 copies ordered by July. There is such high demand for this book in Monroeville because each book will have a special gold-plated stamp indicating that the book was purchased in Harper Lee’s hometown.

Considering that this is just the excitement that one dedicated town holds, the turnout for Lee’s novel in the rest of the nation, and even the world is something to be looking for in upcoming months. Being a banned book that has now been made accessible in classrooms throughout the United States, there’s a special charm and admiration for the lessons taught in this coming-of-age novel that make it unique and valuable. Lee has managed to create a strong respect and honor for herself through the publishing of one book and following up with “Go Set a Watchman” is sure to stir up people’s ideals. 

Book reading and the purchasing of books is something that has declined significantly since new advances in technology have made books available to us at our fingertips. On top of that, the average person is expected to be so much more productive in their day to day work than in the past, leaving many little to no time to pick up a favorite book or two for even just an hour every day. Possibly the last time there was an incredible turnout for a novel was the releases of the Harry Potter books.

As an advocate for reading books recreationally, "Go Set a Watchman" will hopefully respark new desires for reading novels and brings value and meaning back to the traditional style of reading.


Based on the New York Times article "'To Kill a Mockingbird' is a Stage Hit at Home in Monroeville, Ala."


--Jessalyn Kieta

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