Title: The Drop-Off
Author: Fiona Harris and Mike McLeish
Published: April 28th 2020
Publisher: Echo Publishing
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
Lizzie, Megan and Sam became accidental friends over good coffee, banter and wrong-world jokes at school drop off. Lizzie is a part-time midwife with four kids and a secret past. Sam is an ex-chef and stay-at-home dad with an absent, high-flying corporate wife. Megan is an ex-model single mum with a thriving online business and no time for loneliness. None of them have much interest in their school community, but when tragedy deals Baytree Primary’s reputation a potentially crippling blow, this unlikely trio have to step up. Forced out of their respective comfort zones, Lizzie, Megan and Sam learn more about each other, the school and themselves than they thought possible.
And it all begins at The Drop-Off.
Developed from a short web based comedy series, The Drop-Off is the first novel by writing duo Fiona Harris and Mike McLeish. The Drop-Off offers a witty and realistic glimpse into the world of parents, children and a school community.
Welcome to Baytree Primary School. This quiet and comfortable Melbourne based school is a place where parents go about their daily lives following an unwritten set of rules, pertinent to the school culture. These include fashion choices, opportunities to gossip and drop off expectations. It is all about keeping a happy medium and no one knows these stipulations more than trio Lizzie, Megan and Sam. Each one of these parents has their own concerns. These modern parenting issues include money woes, work life balance problems and relationship strains. The school drop off is this trio’s saving grace, a place where they can go to air their concerns – with no judgement. However, when a tragic incident occurs at Baytree this friendship circle must adapt to a world of change.
Parenting and schoolyard politics based books seem to be experiencing their heyday of late. I have seen a plethora of books released in this genre, which I think may be somewhat of an after effect of Liane Moriarty’s popular novel of this domestic fiction genre, the smash hit Big Little Lies. I prefer to avoid comparing books, but I did feel The Drop-Off reminded me of Moriarty’s bestseller. However, Harris and McLeish have put their own unique spin on the schoolyard culture. I enjoyed my turn with two new authors and I was inspired to seek out the short form web series this book is based on.
As a parent who indulges most days in the ‘drop off’, I found this practice a really interesting scenario to explore within a contemporary fiction novel. There were many elements that Harris and McLeish highlight that had me nodding in approval and relating my own experiences to the parent figures in this story. It was a nice feeling to be able to connect so closely to a set of characters. The cast definitely has shades of myself, my friends and acquaintances in the school community I am a part of. The Drop-Off hit quite close to home for me as a reader!
Dividing the narrative into three different points of view and following three parents in a closely observed manner made for a great read. I liked how each parent of this trio had their own parenting approach and personal baggage, as well as secrets. These range from marital issues, to career choices and business pressures. I enjoyed the process of unpacking these problems. The characters featured in The Drop-Off are presented in such a way that you would be happy to sit down and have a coffee with them to mull over your problems together. The accompanying dialogue was easygoing and authentic too. There was a kind of ordinary, down to earth tone about the protagonist set that had me smiling, laughing and fist pumping in solidarity!
The conflict aspect in the novel upturns the character set and will be sure to surprise the reader. The fallout from the tension filled problems was entertaining, fun and connective. The tone of the novel which is engaging and on point, helps guide the reader through the maze of parenting predicaments and school based dilemmas presented in The Drop-Off. I liked how the disputes presented in the novel were common based concerns and the mistakes the characters make show us that they are just as flawed as we are! There is no guidebook for parenting!
Frank, lively and full of common understanding, The Drop-Off read very smoothly for a double author offering. Fiona Harris and Mike McLeish’s novel outlines the importance of community spirit and the true value of friendship in surviving the world of highly charged schoolyard affairs. The Drop-Off is a recommend read for contemporary fiction fans.
The Drop-Off by Fiona Harris and Mike McLeish was published on 28th April 2020 by Echo Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the authors of The Drop-Off, Fiona Harris and Mike McLeish, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Echo Publishing for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Drop-Off is book #56 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge