ebook, 426 pages.
Read from March 30 to April 24, 2013.
I would like to start off by saying that I came to this novel fully expecting it to be nothing like Harry Potter and was prepared for what I was going to be reading. Having said that I didn’t really enjoy it but I did change my rating to slightly more positive. This book follows the very personal lives of the people who live in the town of Pagford. It reflects how all of their lives interconnect through scandal and personal mishaps. Right after after I finished reading it I was just so appalled with how tragic and awful the characters and story line were! However after giving it some time I can somewhat understand Rowling’s approach. I believe she wanted to depict the masks that we all wear as individuals, the personal struggles that everyone has but hides and what sort of freedom we can have by shedding these facades. I also think that the story is also a statement about selflessness and authentically connecting with others, which can’t be accomplished if you are not honest with yourself. I feel that Fats summarized the novel perfectly:
“The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, was being ashamed of what they were, lying about it, trying to be somebody else. Honesty was Fats’ currency, his weapon and defense. It frightened people when you were honest; it shocked them. Other people, Fats had discovered, were mired in embarrassment and pretense, terrified that their truths might leak out, but Fats was attracted by rawness, by everything that was ugly but honest, by the dirty things about which the likes of his father felt humiliated and disgusted. Fats thought a lot about messiahs and pariahs; about men labeled mad or criminal; noble misfits shunned by the sleepy masses.”
Having said that I don’t know if Fats fulfilled his philosophy as he suffered the most near the books end. The teenagers in the book were truly the largest victims as they had their parent’s baggage, politics and facades thrown upon them making it impossible for them to be authentic to themselves. Krystal being the largest victim.
What drove me mad about this novel was how much I disliked most of the characters. Their actions and thoughts were just so despicable and negative making it hard to want to pursue the story because ultimately I didn’t care about these shallow individuals whose lives were solely based on small town politics. There were very few characters with redeeming qualities that I cared about, exceptions being Krystal and Barry. Obviously what I know about Barry is all third-party but I believe that these two characters were the only ones that were able to step outside of their own ego and care about someone else. For Barry, he saw something in Krystal and wanted to do what he could to bring her out of the awful slum she was living in. For Krystal, she would do anything for her brother Robbie. However, they still both had their faults. ***SPOILER*** Barry neglected his family and his stressful lifestyle lead to his death. Krystal believed, after Barry’s death, that by having a baby she could escape the life she was living with her drug addict mother and by pursuing this sort of selfishness with Fats she lost the one thing she fought so hard to protect, her brother and in the end her life ***END SPOILER***.
What I did appreciate about the end is that everyone was shown for what and who they were. ***SPOILER*** I think I gained the most satisfaction when Kay finally ditched Gavin. I think I despised him the most out of all of the characters. He was down right selfish and cruel to Kay by staying with her. In the end I suppose he showed his humanity like the other characters but I felt little sympathy for him when both Mary and Kay rejected him ***END SPOILER***.
Overall, I wouldn’t deter people from reading the book by any means but I wouldn’t read it if you’re feeling down in the dumps or have a hate on against the world as it won’t do much to restore your mood or faith in humanity