If you want Rowling to give you a vision of hope, I suggest you stick to Harry Potter – this book is not it. The Casual Vacancy descends into the darkest depths of the human heart and examines all sorts of depravity: lust, hatred, jealousy, and especially pride. The characters follow a course of almost every imaginable sin, from violence to pedophilia and rape. Their sins tear the fabric of their small society apart. And this is in a "good" middle class small town. The whole time, the "good" people of Pagford turn their back on the sufferings of poor people on their doorstep who struggle with drug addiction, prostitution, and suicide. This book is demanding and painful to read, but thought-provoking. If you can read this book without crying, you are made of sterner stuff than I am. I highly recommend this book to anyone concerned about social justice. The Casual Vacancy can open your eyes and perhaps make the reader more empathetic to the plight of his neighbors.
A word of caution: this book is not for children or the immature reader. While it contains extreme amounts of profanity and a lot of sexually explicit material, all of this is done in a way that does not titillate the reader but rather causes pity and disgust. Throughout, the reader is shown sin in an unfiltered way, but the social consequences of even private sins are also shown.