Why we love it: Blame is an intense and shocking novel, a darkly humorous story that cuts straight into the broken lives of two suburban mothers whose experiences of motherhood are a far-cry from rosy social media stereotypes.
Anna and Caro have been firm friends since they met at their local early childhood centre with their babies. Caro’s daughter Lex is a gorgeous, toddling one-year-old meeting all her milestones, while Anna’s same-age daughter Maya simply stares obsessively at her screen, barely speaking but screaming uncontrollably when it’s her turn with the nurse.
When everyone else in the clinic sneers at poor Anna and her out-of-control child, Caro is drawn to her, in spite of the screaming child. Caro has her own crosses to bear, with her increasing reliance on alcohol and struggles for more children, and takes Anna under her wing. For the next ten years the two of them become great friends, always there for the each other in their lowest times. But all that changes in just one day when a terrible accident tears both of their families apart.
Trope gets to the heart of her story with the narrative alternating between the two women’s voices. It’s intense and thrilling as we sweat it out with them in the heat of the suburban police station while they undergo two days of gruelling interrogation. While we sympathise with both women, as we hear more of their stories, we can’t help starting to believe one of them more. Each of their tales is shocking and there’s blame on both sides, but who is really at fault and which one of them is lying?
Blame is an originally told, edge-of-your-seat story that had us riveted. It’s honest and searing and examines the many issues of motherhood and marriage, especially when it’s not picture perfect. It’s a novel that reminds us that in life we don’t always get what we want; in fact things can go drastically wrong, but it does offer hope and redemption through even the darkest times.
Nicole Trope is a former high school teacher with a Masters Degree in Children’s Literature. In 2005 she was one of the winners of the Varuna Awards for Manuscript Development. In 2009 her young adult novel titled I Ran Away First was shortlisted for the Text Publishing Prize. Other novels include The Secrets in Silence, The Boy Under The Table and Three Hours Late.