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Book clubs  •  6 May 2020


The Spill book club notes

Explore the cycles of love, loss and regret, that can follow a family through the years, with your reading group.

Choose The Spill for your next book club meet-up and discover a new literary talent. Winner of the 2019 Penguin Literary Prize, Imbi Neeme weaves a deeply moving story of two sisters and what happens when their mother loses control of their car on a remote West Australian road. While nobody is hurt, the repercussions of the accident are felt for decades.

Dive into The Spill and then use the points below to get your book club conversation started. 

Discussion points and questions:

  • The author uses a non-linear chronology to represent pieces of the narrative puzzle falling into place – withholding pieces of information until characters are ready to digest them. What did you think of this choice? 
  • Sisters are a regular motif in fiction. Why do you think that is? Nicole and Samantha’s relationship is at the heart of the novel. How does it change over time and why do you think that is? 
  • Samantha may be read as not easy to love. In what ways do you think her behaviour is influenced by, or even directed by, her upbringing, genetics, her current situation or the secrets she is keeping?
  • What do you think about the idea of ‘difficult’ characters in general? Is it essential that a character be ‘likeable’?
  • The Spill explores themes of trust, betrayal, loyalty and what constitutes a family. Which of these themes stood out to you the most and why? 
  • The characters keep many secrets from each other. Do you think this is to protect themselves or the people around them? Discuss how far people should go to shield their loved ones from the truth.
  • On reading The Spill, writer Robert Lukins said, 'These are people, like us, making lives of their messes.' What do you think of this summation of the book?
  • Share your thoughts about the book's final revelation. Why do you think Tina never told Nicole or Samantha (or Craig or Meg) that she knew about Craig and Meg? What do you think about the fact that they will never know?

The Spill Imbi Neeme

Winner of the 2019 Penguin Literary Prize

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