I must have requested this book (electronically) a while ago. Or during a lull. Because when it popped up in my ‘due to read’ pile I read the back cover blurb and groaned. Not from any physical pain ( 😉 ) but rather the thought of yet another book about parenting wars. I know the fascination with good / bad parenting started before Big Little Lies but the perfect / imperfect mummy thing has become a little old hat. More so for me I suspect as a non-parent.
But I bravely read on, deciding it’s not the author’s fault there’s been a deluge of books about parents being blamed for their children going missing or getting hurt when they should be keeping a better eye on them.
And, I was relieved to discover – after this book kicked off – there are some secrets at play that go beyond the parenting crap, so I found myself more intrigued than I expected to be.
by Rebecca Thornton
Published by HarperCollins
Genres: Women's Fiction
When Liza’s little boy has an accident at the local health club, it’s all anyone can talk about.
Was nobody watching him?
Where was his mother?
Who’s to blame?
The rumours, the finger-pointing, the whispers – they’re everywhere. And Liza’s best friend, Sarah, desperately needs it to stop.
Because Sarah was there when it happened. It was all her fault. And if she’s caught out on the lie, everything will fall apart . . .
This book unfolds from Liza and Sarah’s points of view via alternating chapters. And for a while it felt like it was going to be less about ‘bad parenting’ or tut-tutting and more about secrets and lies… though ultimately didn’t quite get there for me.
It had some potential before falling into a few of the usual cliches with the mother’s group (and chat rooms) and the school committees yielding to bright shiny new members with something to offer and quick to ostracise anyone a little different.
Weirdly Ella, the character set up as aloof and the least likeable, (almost) becomes the character I liked most. Sure, she lacks some integrity (!!!) but I appreciated her pragmatism. She kinda buys into the game-playing, but there’s a sense that the other women project their perceptions onto her rather than her actually being as dastardly, or impressive, as they think.
Sarah started as a likeable character. We engaged with her and understood where she was coming from. She’s experienced some recent trauma she’s not really dealt with, but her well-meaningness (aka guilt) becomes ridiculously meddlesome to the point of being OTT (and perhaps slightly mad). I appreciated that Thornton ensured the reactions of those around her (to her behaviour) was realistic.
And then there’s Liza, the mother of the injured child. Liza is separated from her husband Gav, though they’re living together. He’s certainly over solicitous: Liza thinking he’s too distrustful of her; and Sarah believing him to be controlling and perhaps emotionally abusive. I was with Sarah on that as he’s quick to become angry at his wife and she seems frightened of him. But we’re aware Liza has her secrets. She offers up hints but doesn’t give any detail until everything hits the fan and she needs to share all.
Parents (mothers more specifically) will probably relate more to this book than I was able.
But there are some broader lessons here: about making assumptions about others’ lives; about the need to consider the motivation behind our actions; and about doing what we think is right even if perhaps we know (deep down) we’re overstepping.
This would most likely be a good bookclub book as it’d definitely generate some discussion around the ‘what would you do?’ type scenario.
The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton was published in Australia by Harper Collins and is now available.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.