Phew. I just finished The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.
I’m feeling very… emotionally drained. I need to preface this post by explaining that I do NOT like drama – I don’t watch TV shows (generally) and I don’t like a lot of real-life books. I picked this one up, originally thinking (very mistakenly) that it would be a murder mystery (it is not at ALL). Instead, it’s a story that deftly weaves the lives of numerous small-town characters together. It deals with life – the gritty, sad parts of life. Abuse (substance, physical, emotional, sexual), bullying, addiction, relationships, and politics all feature throughout. There is a diverse cast, all of whom you do get to know and can sort of sympathize with or at least understand their motivations. Spanning generations (from teens to grandparents), the book is sort of about filling a vacancy in the Parish Council resulting from the sudden demise of Barry Fairbrother. It’s more a story of people – their relationships and their struggles.
A few points:
- I thought it was very well written, once you got into it. The start was pretty slow, as it was just an introduction of what felt like a bazillion characters. The introduction was necessary as the story then jumped around quite a bit between all these various people.
- It is most definitely an adult book and is completely totally radically different than J.K.’s previous works.
- I respect that it deals with some difficult issues – a LOT of difficult issues.
All told, it was not for me. I cried (a lot) and feel drained and sad at the end of it. I don’t handle real-life drama / sadness well, so that definitely taints my view. So much so, that I’m not going to attempt to rate this book. I will say that I think others would enjoy it (I bet my husband would like it actually) but if you’re a lover of YA Fiction it is not for you.
*Update: I will rate it, as I feel I do need some sort of record of my feels. Bear in mind my comments above: 2/5