#aww2019 · 2019 Reviews · Australian · book bingo · contemporary fiction

#Book Bingo 2019 Round 23: ‘Themes of Inequality’- Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko

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Book Bingo 2019 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite bloggers, Theresa Smith Writes and The Book Muse. Each Saturday, on a fortnightly basis, beginning on Saturday 5th January 2019, Ashleigh, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The Book Bingo 2019 card contains a total of 30 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year, with the aim to complete the whole card by the end of December. Two of the Book Bingo entries this year will be flexible, so that means it is completely down us as to when we post these entries, to ensure all 30 are ticked off by the end of the year. Do keep an eye out on our respective blog sites for our bonus round entries!  To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us, there is no crossover – that is planned anyway! However, as Ashleigh, Theresa and I enjoy similar books, especially books by Australian women writers, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we end up with more than one book double up, as was the case in 2018! We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post, tagging us on social media, or by visiting The Book Muse and Theresa Smith Writes.

Too much lip, her old problem from way back. And the older she got, the harder it too much lip smallseemed to get to swallow her opinions. The avalanche of bullshit in the world would drown her if she let it; the least she could do was raise her voice in anger.

 Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things – her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she’s an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley.

Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people. Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. And the unexpected arrival on the scene of a good-looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds more trouble – but then trouble is Kerry’s middle name.

Gritty and darkly hilarious, Too Much Lip offers redemption andforgiveness where none seems possible.


‘Some things don’t ever change, thought Kerry. And then, some things don’t change enough.’

Too Much Lip is a 2018 University of Queensland Press publication from novelist Melissa Lucashenko. Too Much Lip has received a whole host of awards and shortlist nominations since it was released last year. It was the winner of the 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award, it was shortlisted for 2019 Stella Prize, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and NSW Premier’s Literary Award. Lucashenko is the author of five novels prior to this book. The accolades Lucashenko has received makes her an author that we must stand up and pay attention to.

Too Much Lip is about old and new problems faced by the indigenous, with particular focus on a family from a fictional town situated in coastal NSW.  It is the powerful story of central protagonist Kerry Salter, a woman on the edge of the law. Kerry is drawn back to her home town to say goodbye to her Pop, who is slowly dying. While Kerry hopes this visit home will be a quick one, she is surprised by the gravitational pull this old familiar land has on her. The Salters are simultaneously confronting old wounds, while dealing with the current pressure surrounding the fight to preserve their beloved land from developers. This is a time of great reckoning for Kerry, her family, and the community, as they endure the fight of their lives.

I will be upfront and state outright that Too Much Lip was a hard read for me. It is dark, gritty, confronting and at times shameful. It reminds us sadly of the great damage and injustice served to the indigenous. The long term and reverberating effects of policy and social practices in the past has left a strong stain on the lives of so many indigenous families, right across the country. While searching for a book to cover the category of ‘themes of inequality’ for Book Bingo 2019, Too Much Lip seemed like a logical choice.

We see much of the happenings in Too Much Lip from the eyes of Kerry, a straight up woman with opinions aplenty. Kerry is surrounded by trauma, from her own direct experiences, through to the issues that plague her family fold. Kerry’s view of the world around her was enlightening, but at times difficult to follow. She has so many conflicts and issues flying around her, that I often felt a stabbing pain while immersing myself in her life. Too Much Lip is undoubtedly an affective, rousing and ultimately confrontational read. But, reducing the heavy load of this story are the flashes of humour and comedy that come from the actions of the characters, as well as the dialogue. The narrative is ingrained with quintessential local dialogue and colloquialisms, as well as a few moments of graphic language, which I do admit I struggled with, but it is in context.

Too Much Lip is a confident and fearless novel. It is book that is unafraid of confronting issues and areas of Australia’s current life, as well as a regrettable past, that I am sure we would prefer to sweep under the carpet. But woven into this family tale of secrets and challenges are a whole host of issues of contention. Through the vehicle of this novel, Lucashenko opens up a conversation around justice, the law, incarceration, crime, land rights, dispossession, displacement, policy, inter-generational trauma, missions, the stolen generation, abuse, alcoholism, stance abuse, sexuality, class, violence and inequality. This is a lengthy list, but these are essential areas that have directly impacted the focus individuals, family and community of Too Much Lip. I do feel that Too Much Lip offers a truthful representation of the system wide issues pervading our indigenous people, across Australia.

A brazen and challenging novel, Too Much Lip has the capacity to incite a visceral response to the issues at hand. An immersive read, with touches of both tongue in cheek humour and utter despair, this is a vital novel that should be circulating freely for all Australians to read.

*** 3.5 stars

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko was published on 30th July 2018 by UQP. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Too Much Lip, Melissa Lucashenko, visit here.

Too Much Lip is book #136 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge


5 thoughts on “#Book Bingo 2019 Round 23: ‘Themes of Inequality’- Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko

  1. Happy belated book bingo, Amanda! Seems like a good choice for the ‘themes of inequality’ category. For this round I chose a light-hearted square and a book ‘written by an Australian woman’ – Cherry Season by Trish Morey, such a fun read.


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