The Book Report: “The Casual Vacancy,” by J.K. Rowling

The Book Report: The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling

Annie Yoskoski, Life Editor

J.K. Rowling’s first adult novel, “The Casual Vacancy,” brought in millions of readers following her authorship of the “Harry Potter” series. Coming up with the idea on a plane, Rowling’s latest book venture focuses on the idyllic English town of Pagford and the repercussions of the death of Barry Fairbrother.

In order to keep up appearances, the town doesn’t exactly advertise their faults. Underneath the cobbled street and tiny alleyways leading to a market square is a town full of war and discord. Children are at war with parents, neighbors at war with neighbors, rich fighting the poor, couples engaging in “rows” with each other on every corner; there’s even discord and trouble in schools.

When the death of Fairbrother leaves an opening in the town council, everyone wants it. All of the fighting will be taken to a new political level and everyone will expose each other’s dirty laundry.

For an author to change genres and readerships is difficult, but Rowling did well considering the circumstances. This is far from the dramatic and fantastic world of “Harry Potter.” The publisher describes her new book book as “blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising.”

This book certainly broaches topics that the “Harry Potter” series doesn’t even touch, such as divorce, the “Muggle” world, sex scenes and families falling apart with no magic or huge cause to band them together and save them.

If people are expecting another “Harry Potter” novel, they should pass up “The Casual Vacancy.” For readers looking for a good novel about human behavior and real life drama, everyday problems and one feisty town council, this is the book for you. Similar to Jodi Picoult’s novels, Rowling evokes familial, religious, moral and political issues in one novel, showing different sides of the world all in one set of approximately 34 characters.