‘Go Set A Watchman’ is a coming-of-age novel. The biggest literary event of the decade was its launch a week ago today.

Warm, painful and essential. ‘Watchman’ is an absolute necessity to understanding the relationship between Scout Finch and her father Atticus. In the duration of the novel, we see a young woman (finally) grow into her own person and figure things out for herself. The reader must be reminded, though, that the transition to independence is just as painful for them as it is for the beloved character of Jean Louise Finch.

Moreover, one thing that has to be said about the ‘parent’ of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is that it is almost an alternative universe as TKAM grew out of ‘Go Set A Watchman’. The events in the novel are what could’ve been, rather than the reality. However, the plot is still feasible and doesn’t destroy the image of anything or anyone in TKAM.

Atticus Finch, the hero of Harper Lee’s first novel, was labelled as a racist bigot in early reviews of the new novel. How wrong they were. It is up to the reader to interpret why Atticus says and does the things we are presented with in the novel. As said by the character of Uncle Jack, he and Atticus had discussed the day Jean Louise (who no longer goes by the nickname of ‘Scout’) woke up and entered the real world. They had pondered over the day when Jean Louise grew her own conscience and found her own answers; instead of immediately drawing them from Atticus.

Does ‘Watchman’ destroy our view of Atticus? No, definitely not. By the end of the book, we see that Atticus is still Atticus. He is identical to the ‘idealised’ father in ‘Mockingbird’, except he is now human. He is no longer the God that Jean Louise thought he was as she now knows that, at 26 years of age, Atticus Finch is a human being.

Another thing critics were wrong about was the narrative of the novel. In ‘Mockingbird’ we have an enthusiastic, witty and wise first-person narrative, and in ‘Watchman’ we have the same – only third-person. Lee’s trademark wit, sarcasm and warmth has not been lost and is still evident in the narrative of ‘Watchman’. As Scout is now older and has transformed into Jean Louise, there needed to be a separation between her old self and her new self.

Overall, ‘Go Set A Watchman’ doesn’t destroy Atticus or ‘Mockingbird’, it simply humanises both and brings them down to earth. For anyone who has decided not to read it, the advice is to go and get a copy, then read it. In no way does ‘Watchman’ destroy Atticus. Yes, there’s pain towards the end, but the final chapter reveals that all is well in the end.