J.K. Rowling has the kind of success story that only happens once in a lifetime (if I didn’t love her so much, I’d hate her), and it was well-deserved. Longtime “Harry Potter” fans were ready for the franchise as a whole to end last year when the final film hit theaters, but those who wanted more of her work had hope for her new novel, “The Casual Vacancy,” which includes *gasp* sex, foul language, and a slew of totes inappropes things. She is being accused of "ruining childhoods" for penning something racy, but it’s time for her audience to put on their big kid pants and recognize that she has a right to publish whatever she pleases. The thought of pigeonholing such a talented and inspirational figure actually makes me sick to my stomach. Is this really how we’re going to repay and treat the woman who gave us Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and a decade of excitement?
It has been 15 years since the British woman published the first book in her now-classic series, and the last installment, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” went on sale five years ago. That’s five years that she has gone without writing anything for the public (aside from “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” which kind of fell off the face of the earth). She may be J.K. Rowling, but all writers know that they are only really as good as their latest production, and she while she could happily coast off “Potter” for the rest of her life, she chose to try something different when she finally put the world of Quidditch and Butterbeer to bed, a brave feat from a writer who knew going into the follow-up venture that she could never top her treasured series. The “adult” book description reads as such:
“When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?”
Critics are upset that a well-known YA author has decided to cater to a more mature audience after a rigorous and highly-publicized career serving youth -- and do it in an abrupt manner that caught everyone off guard:
No, you’re not at Hogwarts anymore, and you haven’t been there for over a year. Time to pick up your graduation cap and move on. Luckily Rowling herself isn’t listening to the noise or people who intend to categorize her as YA only. She told The Guardian:
“I am the freest author in the world. I can do whatever the hell I like. If everyone says, ‘Well, that’s shockingly bad – back to wizards with you’, then obviously I won’t be throwing a party. But I will live.”
Normally I’d advise someone who made such a comment to enjoy a piece of humble pie, but she is J.K. Rowling, damn it, and if she cannot hold this prestigious title, no writer can or ever will. If we’re going to treat her like she’s only good for kid’s books and magic, we’re underestimating a novelist who shaped our childhoods, changed our lives and broke barriers for female writers everywhere.
Please, please, please do not pigeonhole or try to limit this brilliant author and extraordinary human being. She did more than enough for us when we were children, probably more than we deserved, and now it’s time for all of us to grow up and let her grow too -- as a novelist.
Reprinted with permission from The Jane Dough.