This second novel by Bethany Ball peels back the veneer of upper-class white suburbia to expose the destructive consequences of unchecked privilege and moral apathy in a world that is rapidly evolving without them. A portrait of a community, and its couples, torn apart by unmet desires, duplicity, hypocrisy and dangerous levels of discontent.
... a delectably numbed-out tale of three couples in a wealthy Connecticut suburb who face the possible destruction of their marriages, bodies, minds and the earth ... Ball is a pleasure to read. Her sentences are brisk twists of the knife; every satirical dart is a bull’s-eye. She makes a meal out of her space-cadet suburbanites, with their expensive German cars and organic apple juice, but allows their concerns to be widely applicable ... But there’s something off about the proportions of the novel. After all of Ball’s careful setting-up...the book seems to end in the middle of the second act, with sinister Agnes fading into the background and the school’s creepiness coming to no particular climax ... To be left wanting much, much more at the end of 300 pages might hint at a structural problem, but it is also a compliment.
How do you write about privileged White parents and make it fresh? Leave it to novelist Bethany Ball ... Because this is a comic novel, albeit more sardonic than droll, those eggs will wind up scrambled. Watching the denouement may not surprise readers, who know that a gun room revealed early on will appear again, and that a magnetic leader will probably experience a downfall. But that doesn’t take away from the well-observed details ... a few subplots are left hanging, a few ideas undeveloped — but the novel’s bite and loose structure promise excellent social satire to come from its author.
... a stinging satire about the hollowness of the suburban dream. Each couple is glittering but damaged ... Withering in its barbed wit, Ball’s mordantly penetrating portrait of middle-class malaise teems with infidelity, inequity, mistrust, and disappointment.