Book Review: Six Bedrooms

Six Bedrooms
Published By: Random House Australia
Publication Date: July 1, 2015
Page Count: 240
Buy it at The Book Depository
Source: Review Copy Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Adult - Literature/Fiction

I don’t often read short stories, but when I saw the description of this collection, I thought I’d give it a go. Seven of the stories in the collection are unrelated, while three feature Tasha at different stages of her life. 

The stories are mostly set in the 80s and 90s and are all told from the point of view of an adult looking back at a particular event in their lives. From awkward adolescent fumblings, drunken parties and disastrous house shares to the obligatory stint in London, losing a friend to cancer and facing the loss of a parent, Six Bedrooms has a lot to say about the human condition, and not all of it is pretty. 

Tasha, in particular, is not a likeable character. As a 15 year old she resents her best friend, Judy, because she secretly believes that she could do better. Darcy hates his aggressive father, but can’t see that he’s following the same patterns. Rose knows that her best friend Ben is in love with her, and she definitely doesn’t feel the same way, but when he pressures her into giving being a couple a try, she goes along with it so as not to lose him. Until she meets his step brother. 

 Although several of the stories are about childhood and adolescence, they are very much told with an adult’s understanding of the world. Drinking, drug use, sex and abuse are explored through these stories. It is a book suited to older teens and adults. 

The characters are very well written and despite the brevity of their stories we come to know them well, and to understand their motivations. 

 As someone who doesn’t generally read short stories, I found this collection very enjoyable and it has encouraged me to seek out more.

Six Bedrooms is about growing up; about discovering sex; and about coming of age. Full of glorious angst, embarrassment and small achievements.

Hot afternoons on school ovals, the terrifying promise of losing your virginity, sneaking booze from your mother's pantry, the painful sophistication and squalor of your first share house, cancer, losing a parent.

Tegan Bennett Daylight's powerful collection captures the dangerous, tilting terrain of becoming adult. Over these ten stories, we find acute portrayals of loss and risk, of sexual longing and wreckage, blunders and betrayals. Threaded through the collection is the experience of troubled, destructive Tasha, whose life unravels in unexpected ways, and who we come to love for her defiance, her wit and her vulnerability.

Stunningly written, and shot through with humour and menace, Six Bedrooms is a mesmerising collection of moments from adolescence through adulthood, a mix of all the potent ingredients that make up a life.