A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads: Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. (Summary and image from goodreads.com)
My Review: Well, I certainly started 2015 out with a bang! After months of either obligation reading, slogging through books I'd hoped I'd find interest in and failing, or just plain not succeeding at the reading thing, I FINALLY received Big Little Lies from the library. And if ever a book grabbed me by the ear and demanded, "Let's go, missy!", this one did!
I'm in the PTA. I'm also incredibly blessed that the women I work with are as devoted to avoiding drama as they are to their kids. (It makes for a near-idyllic PTA experience, I swear.) However, I was holding my sides with the spot-on stereotypes and stigmas in the book. You have your Blonde Bobs (they run this school's PTA), your career moms, your moms devoted to turning the school into their own kingdom (queendom?), the part-time working moms, the stay-at-home moms, the idolized moms, the wannabe moms, and the pot-stirrers. There's even a yoga mom in there. They all have their virtues, their vices, and their own pet projects. They are real women, and truly felt real as I was immersed in the book. I kept getting subtle reminders that this was taking place in Australia and not a few blocks from my house (the beach gave it away), and each one was a shock. A big "Oh, yeah, this is a book and not real life. Whoops!".
I've seen a lot of book clubs reading this lately, and I can see why. It starts with a murder, but the trick is that you don't know who the victim is until the murder plays out -- at the END of the book! Also? Totally shocked me. And that says a lot. Further, Moriarty has done an amazing job writing real women with real struggles. I found myself identifying (good and bad) with almost every character, and even better, enjoyed that the men in the book were actual beings. So many times in a chick-lit book the men are supporting characters with no dimension at all. They don't grow, they don't develop, they just are there to be mustache-twirling villains or superdads. This wasn't the case - the dads were almost as real as their wives, which I found refreshing.
I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish this book. Even after a two o'clock chiding from my husband, I kept reading ... this book wouldn't let me go. Do you know how refreshing that is!?
My Rating: Four and a half stars
For the sensitive reader: Domestic violence (multiple instances, it's a key line in the story), bullying from both parents and kids, and language. There's also a sex scene that is recounted that is painfully difficult to read (but necessary to the book) because of the emotional cruelty present.