Harper Lee novel hot-seller in Austin despite controversy

"To Kill a Mockingbird" -- it's one of those books you read when you're about Xander Christou's age...and it stays with you.
   
Christou is a 13-year-old book fanatic and he's reading Harper Lee's masterwork for the first time.

"I love the writing, it's a fabulous story, I think it deserves to be a classic," Christou said.

In anticipation of the sequel, "Go Set a Watchman," he's hosting a read-along on his blog.  The goal is to read both novels in a week.  Like most readers, he admires the heroic attorney, Atticus Finch -- portrayed by Gregory Peck in the film -- also a classic.

"I really like him.  He's good-hearted and he just likes standing up for what's right and he's a great dad," Christou said.

But the reviews are in -- and it turns out in Go Set a Watchman -- a novel Lee wrote before To Kill a Mockingbird, an older "Scout" is disillusioned with her father who has become racist in his old age

"I don't know how I feel about that.  I think it's going to be a little strange...I've heard all this controversy about it.  I'm still going to read Go Set a Watchman.  I guess I'll see when I read it," he said.

J.K. Davis is a high school librarian.  She bought her copy Tuesday morning at "Book People."  She also has a "let's wait and see" attitude about it.

"I think it's going to be shocking to people.  And we'll just see where the discussion leads us," Davis said.

Steve Bercu, the co-owner and CEO of Book People isn't phased by the controversy.

"If he's not Gregory Peck, that's fine with me," Bercu said.

He says it's something each reader has to process for themselves.

"That to me is the magic of a book.  Each one of us has a little different take on it because it's to some degree a reflection of ourselves," he said.

Bercu says it shouldn't ruin anyone's view of Atticus Finch...but it will change it.

"The character got older and thinks different thoughts.  I don't know what the thoughts are, I haven't read the book yet but I'm guessing that they're going to be troubling, there are going to be more things to process...but that's okay I mean that's why we read books.  If we want them to be always exactly what we like, then we're never challenged.  And we never have to think about anything," Bercu said.

Lee's attorney says she found the book last year.
   
In response to the controversy, publisher HarperCollins issued a statement saying:
   
"The question of Atticus's racism is one of the most important and critical elements in this novel, and it should be considered in the context of the book's broader moral themes."

Harper Lee is 89-years-old and staying at an assisted living facility in Alabama.
   
She stays out of the spotlight.
   
So the truth behind this book and why it is the way it is...we may never know.

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