As posted on Goodreads.
I took a little while to get into “Too Much Lip” by Melissa Lucashenko, but as the story grew and I learned more about the characters, I really began to enjoy it, and loved it in the end. It’s Kerry’s story, about coming home and bringing about her family’s reunion and triumph.
I empathised a lot for Kerry, although she’s a gnarly and in some ways unlikeable character, and I wondered why Steve put up with her sometimes. I felt for her situation with her mum and her family. In fact, her mum reminded me a bit of mine. I loved details which felt Australian, familial and familiar, like how Pretty Mary calls the girls ‘dort’, short for daughter. Lucashenko captures various strains of the Aussie sense of humour brilliantly and uses them to her advantage in the text, to scrutinise events and to entertain.
I found the violence challenging, and I wondered if the text might entrench racist stereotypes, but then I liked how the characters reminded the reader of how violent white people are, and of the trauma they put First Nations people through with invasion, occupation, enslavement and cultural destruction.
In contrast to the horrifying aspects, there are many beautiful moments in the novel, scenes of solidarity among family and friends, the bravery of individuals, as well as beautiful natural elements and a spiritual intimacy with wild animals and the river. It was satisfying to see the corrupt politician get his comeuppance. While I felt some questions remained unanswered in the end, and that Kerry might have still had a debt to pay, overall I very much enjoyed this novel and I’d love to read more similar work.