The publicity for this book has been about the narrative pivot: the ramifications of a man hitting someone else's child. I say `pivot' rather than `focal point' because that is not really what the book is about. It is really just a device to tie together a series of stories, some connected, others only linked to the over-arching stories by contrivance. The book's real aim is less to explore the issue of `the slap' itself, and more to present a panoramic picture of life in suburban Melbourne. In that regard it is only partially successful.
The key strengths are flashes of original writing (the first 20 pages or so seemed especially fresh to me), and a measure of psychological insight. But these are overshadowed by the weaknesses. Few of the key characters (around a dozen) are very interesting in themselves, and most are superficially drawn. Insofar as there is psychological insight, it is never sustained for very long. The episodic structure gives very little sense of characters changing over time, and overall the novel is light on `plot' as such. These shortcomings make the book much harder work than it ought to be, and there is little to compel the reader's attention.