Bookmarks: “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling
On July 21, 2007, J.K. Rowling rewarded people with the final book of her renowned series “Harry Potter.“
After the end, many fanatic readers just wanted to know when she would write a new book.
Five years later, “The Casual Vacancy” has stepped onto the stage.
Completely unlike “Harry Potter,” Rowling’s new book focuses on a group of people living in a small English town called Pagford.
There is no single protagonist of this book, meaning no single viewpoint.
It reads more like a political satire than anything else.
The book opens with the death of councilor, Barry Fairbrother, leaving an empty seat in the council – a casual vacancy.
The technical parts of a casual vacancy aren’t the main focus though, as much as the effect of Barry’s death on the rest of the town is.
Rowling’s most amazing achievement in this book is revealing all the emotions surrounding death, and how each character copes with it.
Most of the book is composed of the introspection of each character.
And with such a wide array of characters, there will be at least one that the reader can relate to, though it may be hard in the beginning to separate one from the other.
Like any story with a concentration on a large group of characters, there are stories that are more interesting than others.
The one that really shined through, at least for me, was Krystal Weedon’s.
A sixteen-year-old teenager, she struggles with her mother’s heroin addiction while attempting to keep her three-year-old brother, Robbie, out of the hands of social workers.
She is no golden girl, though.
In fact, she is portrayed with a terrible, vulgar mouth and questionable ethics.
There are the other children’s problems, like Stuart “Fats” Wall’s ongoing war with his father and general society.
And Andrew Price, Fats’ best friend, deals with his raging hormones – possibly one of the most typical teenage storyline in the whole book – and his abusive father.
On the older side of the character spectrum is Fats’ mother, a guidance counselor for the school who cannot seem to find a way to bridge the emotional gap between her son and husband.
That’s just a taste of the characters in this book (it would take another book to describe all of them).
And all the while, there is a concern of who will fill Barry Fairbrother’s empty councilor seat.
I won’t lie, this book is not an easy read, nor is it an uplifting one.
Labeling it as an “adult” book is absolutely true.
It’s not just the explicit language, or even the somewhat politically centered topic.
Rowling’s writing is on a completely different level than it was when she wrote “Harry Potter,” which was aimed to be a children’s story.
Her tone’s darker, and there’s no strict sense of good and evil.
That’s not to say it’s not a good book, it is simply a big change from her first work.
Just don’t go opening it expecting to finish it a few hours.
Make sure that you have time to commit to it, and aren’t overwhelmed by other work.
If you get through it, you will definitely be rewarded.