So I finally finished this book. It took me much longer to get through than a normal read.This is so much a departure from Rowling's previous works it is almost equivalent to if Steven King starting to write children's books.While the writing is impeccable this is not an easy book to get into. Most of the characters are awful it was hard to find anyone to root for. Seemingly the most likeable character with the most redeeming qualities is the guy that dies in the beginning of the story and even his wife is upset that he seemed to care about everything else in there little town more that their family. Everyone else is so flawed; petty gossips, unhappy marriages, heroin users, abusive family members the list goes on and on. This is not a happy story.It is totally character driven many small stories interweaved together. All of the characters in this little town are connected by minor details throughout the book which is a feat. If you are like me and like things to be wrapped up at the end of the book this is not for you. Most of the problems brought up are never resolved completely by the end. There are some minor resolutions to a few situations but overall many strings are left hanging open.The character I like the best was Andrew Price the awkward teenager with acne who is infatuated with the new girl in town. He comes from a home with an abusive father and tries to take the brunt of the anger from him to protect his enabling mother and little brother. I was also pulling for Krystal, ah poor Krys. Mother addicted to heroine currently in and out of recovery she has a 3 year old brother Robbie that she is desperate to keep in her family. She is trying so hard to keep her mom straight and her dysfunctional family together. Her story is absolutely tragic. There are some bright lights at the end of the tunnel. A few characters that learned life lessons and might have become better people overall. There are also those that learned no lessons went backwards as people or remained just as awful as they had always been.If you like true to life type stories and character studies than this is probably something you would enjoy. I will say it isn't my cup of tea and had it been written by anyone else I probably wouldn't have made it through the first hundred pages. But Rowling is a fantastic wordsmith so I persevered. For writing I would give this 4.5 stars but for enjoyment of the story only 2 stars.