Today I am marking off my thirteenth #13 checkpoint category for the POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2020 with:
The fallout will be huge . . .
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 . . .
Secrets, lies, gossip, guilt and modern parenting defines the third novel from Rebecca Thornton. The Fallout is a domestic fiction title with a strong contemporary line, the premise of this novel immediately draws the reader in. Filled with plenty of emotional drama and speculation, it is hard not to cast judgement on the central characters of The Fallout.
When we begin The Fallout, a gaggle of gossiping mothers forge a friendship through an antenatal online chat group. Some years later, two of the women from this group have maintained their friendship. When they meet up at a local health club, a terrible accident occurs, involving the young child of one of these women. The other was supposed to be watching her friend’s son in a punishing twist of fate that will see both women consumed by the guilt that follows them after this incident. The blame game follows this accident, the rumour mill starts and there are accusations made by strangers. This day continues to haunt little Jack, his mother and Sarah, the friend left in charge of this boy’s care. As the lines between truth and lies blur, these two women struggle to keep their sanity in check.
I selected The Fallout to read as the title was speculative and I thought this book definitely had a The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas vibe. Parenting wars and schoolyard politics seem to be a focal point for authors to deconstruct of late, thanks to trailblazing books such as Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I do not generally like making book comparisons, but I do feel as though The Fallout is a kind of hybrid novel of The Slap and Big Little Lies. It definitely falls into the conflict based modern parenting and domestic fiction category.
I really hoped that I would connect with and relate to the characters of The Fallout as a parent. I appreciated the way in which Thornton tried to present her cast in a sympathetic and realistic manner. However, I did feel a sense of frustration with these protagonists and I found their issues trivial. There was selfishness to their nature and they often displayed frivolous attitude which seemed to grate on me. It was hard to let them in and empathise with them.
The situation that occurs to the poor little boy in the story is played out well. In fact, I think The Fallout would actually work better on the screen as a miniseries, rather than a book. There are some good moral high ground issues that come into play in The Fallout, which I desperately wanted to discuss with someone! Thornton doesn’t back away from highlighting some pertinent themes that strike at the heart of present day parenting. These conflicts include parental roles, conception, loss, marital breakdown, friendship, appearances, trauma, anxiety and mental illness. There is also the looming aspect of who is truly to blame for the accident that day, which plays on your mind. It is a hard one to assign. I came to conclusion that no one was truly at fault, it was just an awful accident.
Thornton’s narrative is divided between two friends, Liza and Sarah. Interspersed between the narrative are snippets from chat groups, online newspaper articles, interview transcripts of witnesses of the accident, emails and Facebook page updates. Full points to the author for tapping into our modern fixation on these various communication platforms. It definitely adds another spin to the events of the novel, but I did feel it disrupted the flow of the narrative at times.
The Fallout is an issued based contemporary fiction novel, which is in touch with our current social world. Rebecca Thorton’s latest book provides a glimpse into the pressures of modern parenting, friendships, relationships and our obsession with appearances.
*** 3 stars
The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton was published on January 20th 2020 by Harper Collins – GB. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.