Confession: I would not have read this book if someone hadn’t given it to me and told me to read it. I am not a Rowling fan … not sure why … perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I read the first Harry Potter in Hebrew without knowing anything about the text and I struggled to understand it, the made up words (muggles) transliterated and to my baffled brain untranslatable – what is the root of that word? Muggles? In Hebrew? Yes, that could explain my lack of fascination with the wonder that is the imagination of this author. Nonetheless, this book was thrust upon me and I have to say that I actually enjoyed it.
The only word that I can think of to sum up this book is ‘raw’ – and I mean ‘raw’ in a kind of gritty, grating way. There is very little prettiness in this book. Rather it is filled with despair on so many levels that at times it is more of an elegy to the under-class than anything else. But, despite this undercurrent, there is some wonderful tension in this book and the characters are real and palpable, alive, struggling through their various challenges. It is this that makes this book so readable, coupled with the fact that the cast is so diverse. The world of the casual vacancy is populated by the desperate, the willing, the sorrowful and the pitiful. It is filled with the angst of teenage rebellion, the hopelessness of the cycle of drug addiction and the sad chasm left by the death of a friend.
To share more would be to ruin this book, to destroy the opportunity to escape into a world that Rowling has so patiently and empathically crafted. I will only add that this is an unexpectedly good read. Enjoy!