Well, I finished it. This is neither a prequel nor a sequel nor a companion text to Mockingbird. It is more like a raw pencil sketch that an artist does to explore how to present a subject on canvas. The finished work--and I am alluding here to Mockingbird--may be very different and most assuredly much more significant. Lee must have known this when she was younger as she kept her text of Watchman hidden away and never let it see the light of day. Now that she is in a nursing home, I'm just not sure that she is thinking all that clearly.
We need to keep in mind that the publisher rejected Watchman when it was first written and directed Lee to go back and do a rewrite focused on a specific incident that is not well developed in the text--the trial that took place about 20 years previously and that became central to Mockingbird. The publisher must have known that mid-century America would not appreciate having a mirror held up to the then-current ugliness of the racial tension that characterized this country in the 1950s, both North and South. Publishers want to make sure that their books actually sell. By focusing on something that took place 20 years previously, the publisher skirted that issue and thus was born the Mockingbird that we knew and loved in our school years.
Other than a serious student of American history or literature, men probably are not going to appreciate this book. It is the tale of a young girl coming of age and finding out that those she holds dear are not infallible. The text is bloated with all that entails: Scout gets her first period, Scout thinks she got pregnant from a kiss, Scout goes skinny dipping (oh wait, that was just a rumor--turns out she kept her clothes on). My advice to the casual male reader would be to man up, grab yourself a Jack Reacher novel, have a beer and fuggedaboutit.