When J.K. Rowling concluded her epic Harry Potter saga, she left a "casual vacancy" in our literary hearts. Her first adult novel, "The Casual Vacancy," treads waters that Potter

intelligently steered clear of: drugs, bullying, self-inflicted torture and cursing take center stage in this brilliantly unpredictable and intricate story that will give readers a very strong dose of reality.

Chronicling a tale of 25-plus characters in the idyllic town of Pagford, this book revolves around various citizens' ruthless quests for Barry Fairbrother's (recently deceased) council seat. More TV-show style than billion-dollar blockbuster, what for the first 400 pages seems like a plotless timeline finally develops into a cleverly crafted climax. In retrospect, the character detailing seems necessary to facilitate the fast-paced finish. Readers must understand that their endurance will be rewarded.

As for the writing style, Rowling's expertise does not fail. Written tactfully, this book slowly builds suspense and interest. Like in "Potter," Rowling uses seemingly unimportant motifs and plot pieces to create a story that inexplicably falls into place eventually. The buildup keeps readers guessing, yet the climax makes it difficult to put the book down.

However, the drugs, language and such are what truly distinguish this book from what is expected of Rowling. Featuring no flesh-eating slugs or flat-faced evil geniuses, this book is truly for readers ready to face adult topics. Instead of being a page-turner, this strong book makes you cringe and want to skip over the more visually gruesome pages.


Advertisement

"The Casual Vacancy" is a satisfying read. Unpredictable grown-up topics crafted into a predictably ingenious plot create an entrancing experience that leaves the reader with a strong dosage of reality and a sense of satisfaction. This book is fantastic for readers, Potter fans of not, who are ready for it, but will deeply scar readers who still await a letter from a certain Professor McGonagall.

Leather jackets: Forever "cool" links to Hollywood are becoming increasingly popular in teenage girls' apparel. Toasty warm and flattering, leather jackets are commonly paired with a casual dress or a smart top with jeans or a patterned skirt. For cold days, they can be dressed up with a trench coat or a sporty jacket. Providing a tough, almost masculine touch to a simple outfit, they make it look more polished for a day in school or around town. Perfect for the chic fashionista, leather jackets are popular in black, tan, chestnut, and occasionally bright colors and come in side- and center- zipped cuts. You can try one out from Forever 21 or Macy's for $30-$60, or go for a fancier option from high-end retailers such as Nordstrom.

The Life in Perspective board is made up of teens who write for the features sections. Garima Raheja is a sophomore at American High School in Fremont. Reach her at lip@bayareanewsgroup.com