This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
The children of Pirriwee Public School know how to be kind to one another; after all, sharing is caring. When mild and meek Amabella claims to have been hurt by the new addition to kindergarten, Ziggy, the mothers forget these basic values and start to become overinvolved. Ziggy’s mother Jane can’t bring herself to believe that her caring, sweet child would ever hurt anyone deliberately, but then she is harbouring a shocking secret of her own. Renata, mother to Amabella, is determined to have revenge on Ziggy for the way he has treated her daughter, even going as far as to petition for his exclusion.
Tensions increase between the parents and old resentments bubble to the surface – all coming to a climax on the much-anticipated Trivia Night. Battle-lines are drawn and sides are taken resulting in the shocking death of a parent. But was it cold-blooded murder, an accident or the result of parents behaving badly?
Incredibly well written, the narrative focuses on three mothers: Jane, who has moved to Pirriwee with motives unclear even to herself, the breathtakingly beautiful Celeste who, on the surface, appears to have the perfect family set-up, and feisty Madeline who’s never happier than when she’s embroiled in a conflict. There are a number of other mothers who feature throughout. Fortunately, each one has very distinctive features preventing the reader from becoming confused. The novel cleverly and accurately highlights that the secondary school mentality of cliques and disputes doesn’t stop at age 16, with a bit of exaggeration of course.Although the story is about bullying on the surface, it goes deeper, dealing with domestic abuse, marital conflict, broken families and sexual assault. Each of the characters is incredibly rounded with their own opinions on the happenings within Pirriwee that are revealed through quotes interspersing the chapters. The reader doesn’t find out who is being spoken to until the end.
From the beginning you are made aware that everything is leading up to the Trivia Night that is being held at the primary school but nothing could have prepared me for the revelations. The chapters up to this point tease the reader as you know that a murder is going to occur but not who the victim or the murderer is. This kept me gripped, continuously asking: is this character capable?
I loved the structure, plot and slowly darkening tone as schoolyard chit-chat takes a sinister twist. For such a large book, it seemed far too short.