Read: November 29, 2011
Summary: The book begins with friends and family who gather at suburban home in Melbourne for a barbecue. Over the course of the afternoon, a man loses his temper and slaps a child of the host’s friends. The effects of the slap ripples through those gathered and takes a toll, with opinions dividing friends and family as the parents of the child take the man to court. Although the first few chapters of the book are focused on all characters, it then branches out utilizing eight of the characters who share their viewpoint of the incident and life in suburban Australia. Each of the eight characters tell their backstories and is a cross-section of society.
My Thoughts: The concept of the story is great but wasn’t well executed. It felt like a chore to get through and lacked depth. I liked the idea of exploring the effects of a person who hits someone else’s child which ripples through the other characters. 7 of the guests who were at the barbecue took a chapter each to discuss their views on suburban life in Melbourne and, other than Rosie, barely touched on how they felt about the slap. I couldn’t identify with any of the stories presented in each of these chapters. The author could have focused on two or three characters and developed their stories and opinions more deeply. Instead, we got a general view of each person’s life in Melbourne. The stereotypes, male vanity, and sexuality and infidelity was central to a number of the characters, which often went unfiltered and provided too many details. The details were very off-putting, vulgar, and over-the-top where it could have been more sporadic.