As a not-born-but-bred Sydneysider, I felt immediately at ease with the characters and surroundings depicted in Hopscotch. The book is set across different suburbs of inner Sydney. It tells the story of five members of a nuclear family – parents Sam and Rhonda, and their adult children Mark, Liza and Jemma – in at times uncomfortably intimate detail, from the comical and quirky to the sometimes awkward and occasionally banal. So familiar was each scenario, that each time I picked up Hopscotch, it was as though I’d just received news in an email from one of them, or caught up with one on the phone.
Hopscotch begins by plotting five separate stories, chapter by chapter, which at first appear unconnected. Mark, Liza and Jemma all lead very different lives, with varying degrees of affluence and happiness, albeit within cooee of one another. Mark’s high-stress job, but handsome income, appears to be the cause of his unhappiness, while Liza gains enormous satisfaction from her low-paid, but enjoyable work as the director of a childcare centre. Yet blood is thicker than water, as they say, and these five are inevitably drawn together, their lives becoming increasingly entangled through circumstance, relationships and community. Hopscotch is an inviting journey into what could easily be my own life, or that of a friend, over the course of several months.
Hopscotch is Jane Messer’s third novel. She completed both a Doctor of Creative Arts at UTS in 2002.