The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton

Rummaging around on why To Be Read (TBR) shelf last week, I came across The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton. Published around a year ago, the blurb describes this as a “pacy, gossip-fuelled story of one mother’s mistake, and the huge ripple effects on a community weighted with secrets”.

To give you an idea of what it’s about, the story focuses on a group of young mothers, and in particular on three women — Liza, Sarah and Ella — with WhatsApp group conversations helping to move the plot along.

Social media shows up in a lot of novels these days. In this one, I thought Rebecca Thornton used it very effectively to support the story without getting in the way of the flow. I also thought that the real-life conversations between characters were very well done—tightly written and believable.

Getting back to the story, when Liza’s little boy, Jack, has a bad fall at the local health club, the accident results in several different types of fallout:- 

  • For Jack himself, who falls out of the playground after climbing on a post and ends up in hospital with severe neck injuries
  • For Liza who wasn’t watching her son because she was feeding her daughter
  • For Sarah who didn’t check on Jack because she was distracted when she spotted Ella
  • For Ella who found herself caught up in the fallout for reasons that only become clear as the novel progresses.

There’s also fallout for Liza and Sarah’s relationship which starts to break down when Sarah’s guilt becomes obsessive and causes her to make a series of bad decisions. 

For me, Sarah is the most interesting of the three main female characters. I found that my attitude towards her shifted several times as the story unfolded — from finding her sympathetic to feeling frustrated with her and then back again.

If I was to find a fault with The Fallout, it would be that the secrets that emerge are not as dramatic as I expected them to be — but then, isn’t that often the way with gossip? 

Short chapters and a fast pace helped make this an exciting read. I enjoyed it.

[Disclosure: I received an advance proof copy]