I enjoyed it. It is NOT a kid's book at all. The content and language is very strong, but JK worked her magic and made me attached to numerous characters and painted a vivid picture of each character and their true personalities. This is no easy feat with over 20 characters who are all intertwined. It took me a bit to get into it because of all the characters, but I still recommend this book to adults...not kids.
Anyway, the book bothered me. This happens a lot when I read or watch movies. I escape from my own life and live in the character's, which, more often than not, plunges me into a life I don't want to experience for a short time, much less live.
In "The Casual Vacancy," the small town in which the book takes place seems to rotate around nothing but appearances. Every single character in the book cares more about what the other characters think of them than their own families or livelihood; the exception to this are the teenagers, the drug and alcohol addicted, and the mourning widow. The idea alone that youth, sorrow, and addiction brings realty is fascinating to me.
One character, a teenager named "Fats" Wall, spends the entire book pondering the idea of authenticity. He wants to break from the charade put on in his community, school, and household. His idea of being authentic involves posting his family's secrets for the internet to see, purposely taking advantage of a girl from horrible circumstances for sex, and backstabbing his best friend. To him, doing what you want whenever you feel like it is what authenticity is. In the end of the book, he has completely isolated himself from everyone he cares about and he is anything but happy about it.
What makes true authenticity? I feel what Fats felt in my life all the time. I feel the apparent "show" people put on for one another. I do it myself.
It has been especially hard for me recently to hold back how I feel about certain situations and people, even though I know that it's not proper for me to be this brand of "authentic." Does authenticity even mean complete honesty?
According to Merriam-Webster....
a : worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact <paints an authentic picture of our society>
As Christians, authenticity seems to mean "conforming to an original," who is Christ Jesus. We are to be like Christ...which is the hardest thing for man to grasp ever. Regardless, looking up this simple definition that Fats Wall brought to my attention has helped me better deal with my ideas on being authentic in my life.
"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." -1 Corinthians 11:1