Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: Big Little Lies

By Melissa Amster

There's a reason Big Little Lies was one of this past summer's bestselling novels. Not only was it playing off momentum from Liane Moriarty's previous novel, The Husband's Secret, but the combination of chick lit and a murder mystery is enough to get a buzz going amongst avid readers. I'm pleased to report that it was definitely worthy of all the hype it is still continuing to generate!

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .

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. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

This novel was definitely what the doctor ordered to overcome Desperate Housewives withdrawal. Liane gives us three compelling women who are each sympathetic in their own ways. Madeline is having a hard time enjoying turning the big 4-0 when her daughter makes her feel inferior to her ex-husband's new wife and starts keeping secrets from her. BIG secrets. And speaking of secrets, Celeste has one of her own to deal with, and she can't even tell her best friend. Meanwhile, Jane is trying to overcome a past shame and worries that it could be affecting her son in more ways than she was expecting. And it doesn't help that everyone is turning against her and her son either.

I could easily relate to how parents get judgmental of other parents and their kids. Either it's about being a stay-at-home mom vs. a working mom, or if a kid is accused of acting out, the responsibility falls upon the parents. Social situations can be fraught with stress sometimes. There were moments in this story where I just cringed at how either a mother or a child (or both) was being treated. I could definitely relate to Madeline the most. She always looked after her friends' well being, even when she had stress going on at home. I also know that I'm going to embrace turning 40, just like she did (or at least tried to do).

The stories of all three women became intertwined at certain points, which had an impact on the outcome of the story. However, one of the connections seemed forced and made another aspect predictable. I still was surprised by the answer to the murder mystery and didn't see that part coming, in terms of how it would all unfold. After the climax, things seemed to slow down while feeling rushed at the same time. It was still interesting to see what would happen though.

I was very impressed by Big Little Lies and have been recommending it to everyone I know. I am already clamoring for Liane's next novel!

Of course, this review wouldn't be complete without my dream movie cast!
Jane: Carey Mulligan
Celeste: Jacinda Barrett
Madeline: Toni Collette
Perry: Christian Bale

Thanks to Putnam for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Liane Moriarty:


Janine said...

I really enjoyed this book too

OnDBookshelf said...

Definitely one of my favorite reads this summer!!

Connie said...

Great book and fabulous review, Melissa!

Carol Fragale Brill said...

I also enjoyed, recommend, and found the main characters likable and their problems realistic. At times, I cringed from the small mindlessness of some of the parents--some of it felt over the top and like a stretch to me.

Unknown said...

Just finished listening and LOVED it! The only ones I have left to read are The Hypnotist's Love Story, Three Wishes and The Last Anniversary. I love her writing. Such a great imagination :D Great review!

Noblesville Roofing Company said...

Fans of The Husband’s Secret will not be disappointed with Big Little Lies. Readers who can ignore the misspelling of peninsula throughout the text will agree that this is, once again, a brilliant read.

Liz Parker said...

Found your review on Goodreads :) I just finished the book. I like your movie cast picks although I do like the cast they've assembled for the TV series - have you seen it, on HBO? I just watched ep1 yesterday and it was pretty good.

Laurie I said...

I loved The Husband’s secret (best epilogue EVER), so I bought Big Little Lies. I haven’t read it yet, but your review has certainly bolstered my desire to read it. Thanks for the great review!!

Anonymous said...

well done! I loved this book too!