Sunday, October 5, 2014

Review: Big Little Lies

See that fragmented disc of sugar on the cover?  That's what my brain feels like right now. This status has nothing to do with the book I just finished.  I'm just offering up an un-asked for life update. I'm feeling less than razor-sharp lately.

This is pertinent because I'm concerned that this review might be disorganized, overly brief, nonsensical, or all of the above.  My blogging buddy told me to write through the pain, however, so I'm going to give it my best shot.

Straight off, I really liked Big Little Lies.  It was my first book of Liane Moriarty's, an Australian author who is getting really big really quickly of late.  For example, her books are starting to get re-issued to match each other, which you know is a sure sign of a lucrative writer on the rise.

The book follows three women who live on the fictional Pirriwee Peninsula, each with a child entering kindergarten at the public elementary school.  Madeline has just turned forty.  She has three children, one from a previous marriage. Her ex, a former ne'er-do-well, has stabilized, married the kind of woman who eats a lot of chickpeas, reconnected with his and Madeline's teenage daughter, and has his own child who is entering the same class as Madeline's youngest, Chloe.  Celeste, a former lawyer, turned wife of a wealthy business-y sort, has twin boys and a dark secret. (Which is revealed quickly and is very obvious beforehand.) Jane, who had her son Ziggy at 19, is now 24 and newly arrived at Pirriwee.  She has a bit of a troubled past, and is immediately taken under the wing of Madeline and Celeste.

Oh yes, and there's a murder.


Yes, the book starts out with the suspicious demise of a parent at a school fundraiser.

Basically, the book is the equivalent of a strawberry/dark chocolate swirl cone.  It's half slapstick, half deadly serious. It is a thematic book, addressing a specific issue throughout — violence in the domestic sphere. I thought that Moriarty handled the subject very well, although the writing verged on heavy-handed at times.  It's the type of subject matter that is not funny in the slightest, and can be overwhelming to read about.  Moriarty did nice work in providing comedic relief from other narrative sources and not letting the tone get too bleak.  I will note, however, that this book might be triggering for sensitive readers.  There was one scene in particular that shocked me and made me very uncomfortable.  However, in the end, the inclusion of that scene added depth and complexity to the story, and so did not seem gratuitous.

There is a lot more I could write about Big Little Lies, but my poor brain is just about fritzed out.  All in all, I highly recommend, especially for those readers who enjoy women-oriented fiction with sharp edges.

Final Verdict: 5 North Stars

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