2020 Reviews · Book club · contemporary fiction

Book Review: Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

Title: Little Disasters

Author: Sarah Vaughan

Published: May 1st 2020

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 400

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 3.5 stars

From the bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal – a new thought-provoking novel exploring the complexity of motherhood and all that connects and disconnects us. 

You think you have the perfect family.
But everything can be broken.

Liz and Jess have been friends for ten years, ever since they both started a family. But how well do they really know each other?

When Jess arrives at hospital with a story that doesn’t add up, Liz is the doctor on call. 
Jess has devoted her life to family and home. But she is holding so many secrets. 
As the truth begins to emerge, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew: about Jess, and about herself. 

When something feels so personal, how do you stay professional? 


There are many ups and downs associated with parenthood, as we see in the story that follows in Sarah Vaughan’s Little Disasters. Sarah Vaughan’s latest release offers a candid glimpse into motherhood, parenting, child rearing, childhood injury, friendship and blame. Little Disasters reveals a number of shocking truths as this surprising story unfolds.

Little Disasters closely follows the ten year friendship between Jess and Liz, who find their relationship tested to its very limits following a tragic accident that effects Jess’s young family. Liz is not only Jess’s friend but she is also a medical professional. By coincidence Liz is the attending doctor on the day that Jess brings in her daughter for medical attention. Liz is immediately suspicious of the story Jess has produced to explain young Betsey’s injuries, it just doesn’t make sense. Liz is torn between her medical obligations and her natural sense of protection for her friend. Liz knows that Jess is a good mother and wife, so why would she let her little girl slip so easily out of care? Gradually the truth is revealed, forcing both women to confront some hard truths.

Little Disasters marks my introduction to the work of Sarah Vaughan but I have her international bestselling previous release, Anatomy of a Scandal sitting on my TBR shelves. I’m hoping to dust this one off sooner rather than later. I do have to be critical and say that this one was a bit of a letdown pace wise, it is incredibly drawn out, with clear lags in the mid-section. However, I was engrossed in the situation presented in Little Disasters. I also appreciated Vaughan’s truthful approach to the ails of parenthood. At times this story was upsetting to read, but I think the situation Vaughan puts forward is believable and wholly realistic.

Little Disasters unfolds in a clearly marked timeline at the top of each new chapter that highlights the day, date and time in relation to the tragic accident involving a young girl named Betsey. The narrative is told through the eyes of two female protagonists, Jess and Liz. Both are mothers and they have been firm acquaintances for a decade. We learn that of late the friendship has suffered, which is down to the very busy lives both women lead. Jess is a harried mother of three, while Liz contends with her high pressured job and parenting. Vaughan provides the reader with an honest and authentic glimpse into the general struggles of motherhood via the perspectives of both women. In addition, a side story thread looks exclusively at Liz’s traumatic family background. The reader is privy to Liz’s mother’s troubled life which offsets the main narrative. I valued Vaughan’s exploration of the tenuous relationship between Liz and her mother, which highlights themes of neglect, abuse, medical issues and more. While on the flip side, the tragic ordeal that surrounds Jess highlights the pressure mothers place on themselves to achieve parenting perfection, the lack of support for mothers, OCD, postnatal depression, infidelity and parenting roles. Trust, blame, truth, lies and acts of deliberate concealment dominate the direction of Little Disasters, which will no doubt polarise readers.  As a mother, I did feel my support generally stayed with Jess and I didn’t really doubt her, despite the looming questions over her actions.

A late twist succeeded in throwing this reader a little off kilter and it managed to be the saving grace in terms of my enjoyment of the book, which seemed to dip a bit in the middle section of the novel. This twist was surprising, but it seemed to help tie everything together.

Little Disasters is a book that rips open the modern practices and potential myths of present day parenting. Sarah Vaughan’s latest contemporary fiction title is best suited to those who like to read morally complex domestic fiction stories.

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan was published on 1st May 2020 by Simon & Schuster. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Little Disasters, Sarah Vaughanhere.

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