Friendship groups are a complex web of inter-personal relationships, emotions, loyalties and betrayals. Aussie author, Kylie Ladd, throws a grenade into one such group and records the ensuing chaos.
Every group has one, the charismatic individual that is the link between the diverse personalities of that particular circle. In Last Summer, Kylie Ladd removes that central character, when she kills off Rory Buchanan in the first chapter.
Rory, the life-of-the-party, the organiser, the husband, father, mate, brother, brother-in-law, he was the man who held them all together.
Ladd goes on to explore the impact of grief on the group. The tragedy forces the participants to look more closely at their lives. One couple split, there is an “almost affair”, communication becomes difficult, each is drowning in their own sadness, the children too struggle with their own fears the death has brought to their world.
Comparisons have been drawn between Ladd and Christos Tsiolkas. It’s true like The Slap, Last Summer takes us into the heart of Australian suburbia, a singular event triggers a chain reaction and alternating points-of-view show the story from different perspectives. However, Last Summer, isn’t as gritty as the The Slap and the characters are more relatable.
Ladd holds a PhD in neuropsychology and she certainly manages to take us into the minds, emotions and frailties of her characters.
An enjoyable read, reminding us all that life is short.