This book really "struck home" so to speak -- what with my sister working at a "center for domestic peace" (as in, safe place for beaten people). It was also interesting to read a story set in Australia, where my stepdad's from, but the issues and people are not really any different than here where I live in the US.
“You hit me, you hit me, now you have to kiss me.” School Yard chant
“Pirriwee Public School...where we live and earn by the sea! Piriwee Public is a BULLY-FREE ZONE! We do not bully. We do not accept being bullied. We never keep bullying a secret. We have the courage to speak up if we see our friends bullied. We say NO to bullies!” (opening saying)
“‘That doesn’t sound like a school trivia night,’ said Mrs. Patty Ponder to Marie Antoinette. ‘That sounds like a riot.’
‘Not interested, eh? Let them eat cake! Is that what you’re thinking? They do eat a lot of cake, don’t they? All those cake stalls. Goodness me. ALthough I don’t think any of the mothers ever actually eat them. They’re all so sleek and skinny, aren’t they? Like you.’
Marie Antoinette sneered at the compliment. The ‘let them eat cake’ thing had grown old a long time ago, and she’d recently heard one of Mrs. Ponder’s grandchildren say it was meant to be ‘let them eat brioche’ and also that Marie Antoinette never said it in the first place.” (1)
Story starts with Mrs. Ponder and her cat, then into short snippets of interviews with witnesses to Trivia Night that ends in MURDER. We don’t find out until the end what really happened that night - everything starts building up that 1st day of kindergarten, 6 months before. Fun, very creative read - light touch to heavy subject.
Celeste White - beaten wife,
Perry White - the beater - also uses alias Saxon Banks (his cousin) to sleep with other women anonymously, including Jane, who he abuses when he 1-night stands her, resulting in her pregnancy with Ziggy, kindergartner
Madeline - Friend of Jane/Celeste - divorced from Nathan, married to Ed, very passionate type
Ed - current husband, 2 kids
Nathan - ex husband w/ young wife Bonnie and Abigail daughter who bumps back and forth between them
Renata - the alpha woman who starts the “petition” to kick Ziggy out of school that he’s a bully
Ultimately, Bonnie pushes Perry off balcony after he slugs Celeste - everyone drunk at Trivia night. Turns out she’d been watched her mom beaten as kid. No one goes to jail
“The school had tried to support the parents of the kindergarten class as they decided whether or not to send their children to the funeral. An email had gone out with helpful links to articles written by psychologists: ‘SHould I let My Child Attend a Funeral?’
The parents who didn’t let their children go were hopeful that those kids who did attend would have nightmares and be just a little bit scarred for life, at least enough to affect their university entrance results. The parents who did let their children go were hopeful their kids would have learned valuable lessons about the circle of life and supporting friends in their hour of need and would probably be more ‘resilient,’ which would stand them well in their teenage years, making them less likely to commit suicide or become drug addicts.” (444)