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Pink & Black | April 16, 2014

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J.K. Rowling Returns with ‘A Casual Vacancy’

J.K. Rowling Returns with ‘A Casual Vacancy’

We’re all familiar with the rise of J.K. Rowling as a literary powerhouse. The single mother began by scribbling her ideas for Harry Potter on a napkin and now she’s one of the wealthiest women in the world. And to those of us who grew up with “the boy who lived,” J.K. approaches goddess status. From her mind sprung Harry, Hogwarts, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Dobby, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named… basically, for some of us, our childhood.

You’d think that we’d spring like hungry, rabid animals at anything J.K. touched, salivating for more of her writing. Although our initial reaction to the news that J.K. was writing a new novel was along these lines, upon calmer thought we realized—it wasn’t Harry Potter. That’s precisely the criticism she has been receiving since the release of A Casual Vacancy, her latest work for a more adult audience. The book deals entirely with muggles and that appears to be enough to put off a lot of readers.

But we sympathize with J.K. After so many years of dealing entirely with Harry and his struggles (with a dark lord, the loss of his parents and teenage growing pains), we would want to branch out and try something new, too. The Harry Potter series, which began with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 1997 and stretched into 2011 with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2, consumed more than a decade of J.K.’s life and grew into its own living, breathing entity. No longer was J.K. writing as an artist. She was delivering what was demanded and expected of her. Sure, she earned a pretty penny for her work, but all this is to say that we can understand her move into a book that deals with drug addition, suicide, death and government that are typically reserved for an 18+ audience.

Other than working as a writer over the past few years, J.K. also remarried, watched her children age into adulthood, worked on multiple philanthropic projects including establishment of the Volant Charitable Trust and was featured in the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. She has toured with her books and has a notoriously rough relationship with the press after being followed and harassed for so many years. A number of other troubles have followed her as she rose to fame (copyright disputes and criticism from religious groups for promoting witchcraft), but in the end, J.K. is nothing more than an extraordinary woman, writer and businesswoman.

So we urge you to check out A Casual Vacancy with an open mind. J.K.’s voice comforts while the content moves away from what we remember as kids. But we love her daring endeavor in moving away from the series that defined her. Plus, the book isn’t too bad either!

Story by Hillary Reeves, Staff Writer.

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