This book reminded me a lot of Elizabeth George's novels (minus the murder) in that it focused very much on human relationships and feelings...and it didn't paint a nice picture of humanity (to illustrate: on my 'List of characters in this book I want to see dying a slow and painful death' the guy who beats his wife and his children came about 3rd or 4th). There are no genuinely good characters to balance it out (one woman certainly has some good intentions but also treats her youngest daughter quite horribly) and there is just about every bad thing happening (we get: emotional, physical and sexual abuse, adultery, rape, bullying, drug-abuse, a healthy does of racism and probaly something else I have forgotten) and that's somehow the books problem: too many issues, too many characters, especially because they were all introduced quite quickly at the beginning. We get a few paragraphs about each family/couple and then jump to the next one. It left me all a bit confused and it took me around 100 pages till I could tell them all apart. Then, however I was really glued to the pages.
The characters really came alive. As already mentioned many are not exactly likeable but they are still fascinating. This is probably not for everybody. If it's well done I don't mind reading about a POV-character I want to strangle (or at least yell at because he/she is so stupid) and I think it is done well here (admittedly she doesn't spent that much time with the absolutely irredeamable characters and more with the really messed up ones, where you might hate what they're doing but also understand how they got there).
Towards the end tthe story rambles along again for a while. The council-election takes place, which I had expected to be the grand finale of the book but it just happens and for two or three chapters it drags along because nobody seems to know what to do now. Then the real finale happens and it's quite shocking and I again couldn't put the book down.
If you like defenite closure in your books this also isn't for you. While some of the plotlines do get resolved some are just left hanging with a nod in the direction they might develop.