The Drop-Off (Fiona Harris & Mike McLeish, Echo)
The Drop-Off is a cheerful depiction of parenting culture, told through the alternating points-of-view of three parents and set in a middle-class primary school in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Those who live in this area (including this reviewer) will recognise many of the secondary characters sketched out on the page, as well as the core concerns of the main characters. This is not a conflict-heavy book; indeed, the main conflict is almost silly in its lack of depth, and the final twist revolves only around whether a main character will make the same foolish mistake again. There is a shoe-horned attempt throughout to build a darker narrative, perhaps to adhere to current trends or in order to deepen the tension, but it’s unnecessary and incongruous to the overarching tone of the novel. The pleasure of reading this book is that there is no real conflict, that these characters live a relatively fortunate existence—their minor concerns around getting older and still not having it all figured out might result in some personal angst and probably a wine-heavy night or three but ultimately pose no real danger in the broader context of their lives. The Drop-Off is a slice-of-life depiction of upwardly mobile eastern Melbourne; pick this up if you enjoy gentle, if somewhat uncritical, satire.
Kate Cuthbert is program manager at Writers Victoria