Title: The Fallout
Author: Rebecca Thornton
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date of publication: 2 April 2020
Format reviewed: e-copy
Number of pages: 432
Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a secret.
I only took my eyes off him for a second.
One little mistake is all it takes . . .
When Sarah forgets to check on her best friend’s little boy, distraction turns to disaster. And she’s faced with a dilemma.
Tell the truth, lose a friend.
Tell a lie, keep her close.
In a split second, Sarah seals her fate. But accidents have aftershocks, and lies have consequences. And when it’s someone else’s child, the rumours are quick to multiply.
Everyone’s talking about what happened. And sooner or later, the truth will have to come spilling out…
Liza and Sarah met attending the same NCT class while pregnant. Five years later, if they’ve lost touch with most the other members, their friendship is stronger than ever. Life’s ups and downs has brought them closer with time and they know each other so well no words are needed to understand what the other is thinking. Until one fateful day changes their relationship forever. Enjoying some time at the local sports center, Sarah bumps into a member of their old NCT class on her way to get coffee and check on Liza’s son Jack. This chance meeting leaves Sarah in a weird state, not having seen Ella in years. It’s easy to understand Sarah holds a weird fascination for perfect Ella, so mysterious and put-together. Caught in the moment, Sarah doesn’t completely fulfill her commitment to check on Jack and joins Liza, sitting at a table, with the newly arrived Ella…
It takes a split second, an exhale, to feel the before/after that the author creates within only a few pages and Whatsapp conversations. In a very impressive style, Rebecca Thornton grabs the fundamentals of female and mother friendships, exposes them in a chapter, and makes you part of the group. I am not a mother, but I am a friend, and quickly, I caught myself finding common ground with both Sarah and Liza. I’m a worrier, I would do anything for my closest friends, I have looked up to women who have always felt unreachable, better, stronger than me. And I know the price of friendship.
The Fallout is emotionally heavy and gripping. When little Jack falls and hurts his neck and wrist, time stops. Rebecca Thornton’s magic made my heart pump furiously. There’s ‘the incident’, the rush, the adrenaline, the fear… and there is the aftermath.
In a center full of parents and kids, it doesn’t take long for tongues to do their work and for rumors to spread. Fingers are pointed. The scary element here is that what the author depicts is the most plausible scenario to happen in this situation. Some feed off those events, safe in their little lives, happy to be the outsider looking in. They can’t even consider being in this situation. Oh no, that would not happen to them. My eyes rolled, anger burned my stomach, and my fists clenched several times as my urge to give a few slaps grew stronger. But I didn’t get time to dwell on those standing outside the little circle made by Sarah, Liza, and Ella. Guilt and fear began to spread. Sarah feeling so terribly responsible for Jack’s fall. Liza scared for the life of her son. Then came other factors, because, hey, wouldn’t it be too easy otherwise?
If only… Characters are eaten by them. If only Sarah had carefully checked on Jack and not lied to Liza saying she had seen Jack when she’d been distracted. If only Liza, caring for her daughter at the time, had stayed close to her son. If only Ella Bradby hadn’t walked back into their lives.
Reading The Fallout is like witnessing friendship being dismantled, piece by piece. It is painful and brutal. We live in a world in which women still have to be perfect and everyone is under scrutiny. Underneath this picture of society, the author reveals the vulnerability of resilient women who make choices, big and small, that changes everything around them. I felt for both Liza and Sarah. The layers the author adds with each chapter shaped them into women I rooted for, wanted to help, and hug. It was terrifying to see the gap widen between Sarah and Liza. Things kept piling until the load was so heavy something had to give in…
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Fallout. Engaging and authentic, it makes you reassess what you think you know about your friends, and yourself.
You can grab your copy of the book here. (ps, only 99p at the moment!)
I would like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. This review is my unbiased opinion.
Rebecca Thornton is an alumna of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course, where she was tutored by Esther Freud and Tim Lott. Her writing has been published in The Guardian, You Magazine, Daily Mail, Prospect Magazine and The Sunday People amongst others. She has reported from the Middle East, Kosovo and the UK. She now lives in West London with her husband and two children. The Fallout is her third novel.