Underbelly – Anna Whitehouse (the writing duo of Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson)

Published By: Orion
Pages: 352
Date Published: 05/08/2021
Date Read: 26/07/2021

[n.] singular

The soft underside or abdomen of a mammal.
An area vulnerable to attack.
A dark, hidden part of society.

Lo and Dylan are living parallel lives, worlds apart.

Lo is the ultimate middle-class mother, all perfectly polished Instagram posts and armchair activism. Dylan is just about surviving on a zero-hours telemarketing job from her flat, trying to keep food on the table.

But when they meet at the school gates, they are catapulted into each other’s homes and lives – with devastating consequences . . .

TRIGGER WARNING – Contains sensitive topics.

Thanks to NetGalley and Orion for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

I know we don’t judge a book by the cover (although we all totally do), but this one is so pretty, it just looks so good in your hand. It isn’t a book for everyone; it touches on some very difficult themes like baby loss, self-harming, and domestic violence – but I would say they are more sideshows than the main plot point.

The duo of Anna and Matt have perfectly depicted the politics of the school drop off and pick up, and the emotions that come with leaving your child to another’s care, be that a teacher, a friend, or a fellow mother at the school gate.

There is such honesty in this book it makes you wonder if the authors themselves have any firsthand experience with any of the topics touched upon.

It isn’t as gritty as I thought it would be when I read the premise. It is more a realistic tale of things getting too much, with some shit on the side, rather than an all-out gritty, thrilling rollercoaster, in my opinion.

For someone who uses Instagram, Twitter, and WordPress to document her opinions, it might seem contradicting to ask why anyone would put their whole lives online. I have mentioned some personal things in previous blog posts, but nothing that could identify me. All my personal social media’s have the strictest privacy settings, and I don’t even go into that much personal detail with my friends and family on there. There’s a toxicity to the world of influencers on social media that is so brilliantly written about in this; they’ve hit the right note so it doesn’t go into pantomime territory.

For all its tough subjects, it is quite a pleasant, easy read – that is until you get about 90% through and you’re left on the edge of your seat, heart racing, dying to finish it so you can see the conclusion to these women’s stories.

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