This book I picked up at my favourite second-hand book store. Seriously, this bookstore never disappoints! I have found some great books there over the past six months since I discovered it and can spend ages browsing through the many piles of books searching for hidden gems like this one. As with many of the books I read I first heard of this book when it was made into a TV mini series and was intrigued. The basic premise of the storyline is that at a barbeque for family and friends a child is slapped by an adult who is not his parent. Opinions are formed, battle lines are drawn and consequences are rife. The book is told from the perspectives of eight characters who witnessed “the Slap”. The book touches on such a hot topic that this is the perfect book to be discussed, analysed, debated at book clubs all over. Everyone has an opinion, everyone’s different and many of them opposing. I can only imaging the fierce conversations that have cropped up all over the place as a direct response to this book and I applaud Tsiolkas for creating such a thought provoking book that deals with each and every angle of this hot topic. Not to mention this is just one facet of the book, this tale deals with life, death, relationships of all sorts, growing up, fitting in. You name it, this book faces it all in suburban Melbourne.
At first I was unsure of how I felt about this book. Yes, it was an interesting topic on a much debated issue but some of the characters? There is no other way than to describe them then as pigs. Several of the characters, lets be honest, all of the characters deal with confronting issues each in their own way and some of their thoughts are quite harsh. Too harsh I thought at first until I realised that it is just truth. We all think thoughts that are too harsh, that aren’t completely true, all in the heat of the moment. This book just taps into that honesty and I have come to really enjoy it. The book is an unwavering look at what life is really like. The love. The hate. The sex. The beauty. And the inevitable ugly. No sugar coating it here. The honesty is refreshing and the more I read of this book, the more I loved it.
It amazes me the way Tsiolkas has the ability to write from the perspective of men and women, both young and old and from a range of backgrounds. Each voice is realistic and is in some way relatable, yet also, so different. I enjoyed the different points of view presented in the book but also the larger focus on life. This book deals with sexuality, adultery, domestic abuse, death, growing older and much more. There is something in it that we can relate to our own lives and it is refreshing to see other characters going through similar situations with such honesty and bluntness. I can not say enough how much I enjoyed the tone, even after a rocky start.
Ultimately I flew through this book, becoming way more invested than I ever imagined I would. I’m so glad I stumbled across this gem and (finally) got around to reading it. I highly recommend it if you want a look at how life really is. I also would recommend if possible reading it in a bookclub setting or even with a reading buddy because when you finish it it, even while you are reading it, I guarantee you will want someone to discuss it with. Overall, I give the Slap four open palms, which caused the whole drama.