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Reporter's Notebook: Release Day for Go Set a Watchman at Boise's Rediscovered Books


- Erin Tetreault teaches eighth grade English at Jefferson Middle School in Caldwell. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Erin Tetreault teaches eighth grade English at Jefferson Middle School in Caldwell.
Boise Weekly ran into Boise teacher Erin Tetreault at Rediscovered Books while she was picking up her pre-ordered copy of Harper Lee's first novel in 55 years: Go Set a Watchman

"There was a sort of mystery element—there was a mystique," she said about why she'd ordered the book.

Tetreault lives in Boise but teaches eighth grade English at Caldwell's Jefferson Middle School;, and this fall she will begin her second year as an educator. In fact, Tetreault includes the novel for which Lee is famous—To Kill a Mockingbird—as part of the so-called "Taking a Stand" unit, along with Sojourner Truth's speech, "Ain't I a Woman." She said students can be slow to appreciate Mockingbird; but with classroom activities such as a mock trial and opinion essay assignments, it wasn't hard to get them excited about Mockingbird.

"They fight it at first, but they really get into the trial," she said.

She told BW that her students have asked her if Mockingbird has a sequel.

"Now I can say it has one," she said.

Lee's "new" novel (written in the late 1950s) focuses on Mockingbird's protagonist, Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, as she returns to her hometown 20 years after the events of Mockingbird to wrestle with her past and reconnect with her father, Atticus.

Watchman garnered headlines for brisk pre-order sales that have been compared to installments in the Harry Potter book series—and for triggering controversy on multiple fronts. Billed as a sequel to Mockingbird, it's actually an early version of Mockingbird that Lee submitted to editors, who urged her to rewrite the book into its own prequel. It presents one of Mockingbird's central characters, Atticus Finch, himself an representative icon of the integrity of the legal profession and Civil Rights movement, in a harsh light. There has also been speculation that the book had been obtained from Lee, who suffers from vision, hearing and memory loss, under suspicious circumstances, leading to claims that she had been exploited or coerced into publishing it.