In a small town like West Burntridge, it should be impossible to keep a secret.
Rachel Saunders knows gossip is the price you pay for a rural lifestyle and outstanding schools. The latest town scandal is her divorce – and the fact that her new girlfriend has moved into the family home.
Laura Spence lives in a poky bedsit on the wrong side of town. She and her son Max don’t really belong, and his violent tantrums are threatening to expose the very thing she’s trying to hide.
When the local school introduces a new inclusive curriculum, Rachel and Laura find themselves on opposite sides of a fearsome debate.
But the problem with having your nose in everyone else’s business is that you often miss what is happening in your own home.
My thoughts: what at first felt like it was going to be a gossipy PTA, school drama, evolved into something much more thought provoking and complex story, pulling in family make up, depression, sexual assault, divorce, sex work, child abuse and neglect, bigotry and organising a school fete. All the big important stuff, and some of the less so.
Rachel and Erin are dealing with Rachel’s children’s backlash to their relationship and their parents’ divorce – son Reuben seems unbothered, but his sisters, Maia and Tess both seem to be furious. While Tess acts out by being rude, teenage Maia goes off the rails. But Rachel has taken her eye off the ball and Maia ends up hurt.
Meanwhile Laura is struggling with raising her son as a single parent without much in the way of support or money. When Max’s dad reappears, she starts to reassess all the things she’s had to do to just survive.
Jo is the new Head of the primary school and headed for a clash with Kate, head of the PTA, over her petition against the school teaching LGBTQ+ relationships as part of the curriculum. A clash that drags Rachel, Erin and Laura in and as things start to go tragically wrong in their personal lives, does anyone really care about the Christmas fete?
Funny, sad, moving and ultimately redemptive, this a fascinating read about how we don’t see what’s going on behind the facade at the school gate.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.