Book Review – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
December 31, 2014
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.
I was a little nervous to dive into this book, because Moriarty’s last book The Husband’s Secret left me with mixed feelings. I’m so glad that Big Little Lies was chosen as a book club selection at work because I highly enjoyed this read, and I’m not sure I would have picked it up if I didn’t need to read it. Although it is a somewhat longer book, it was a quick read – I found myself flipping through the short chapters trying to find some answers before I would reluctantly turn the lights off for the night. Moriarty will keep you guessing as to what ultimately happens at the end of the story.
On the plus side (sorry – I know the list is long, but I think there are so many things to enjoy in this one):
- I loved the setting of Pirriwee, Australia. I loved the feel of the small seaside community with unpredictable weather and a diverse population.
- The main characters (and many of the supporting characters) were very well developed. I would love to go to Starbucks, grab a mocha, and catch up with most of them! The characters are diverse, and everyone will find a character that they love (as well as hate).
- The novel revolves around the events that occur during a school’s trivia night fundraising event. You find out early on that someone has died, but Moriarty does an impeccable job at keeping you on the edge of your seat trying to guess if it was actually murder and who may have committed that murder.
- Even though you know someone dies at the trivia night, you are still stunned by the events as they unfold.
- Moriarty is able to raise awareness about relevant social issues in a seamless fashion by interweaving the issues into several of the main story lines. She also does a great job at defining the “gray” zones within these social issues, sometimes blurring the lines between right and wrong.
On the down side (and these are small weaknesses so don’t let them deter you from reading the book):
- Moriarty does like to wrap things up in a neat, tidy package that is not always quite realistic (which was a huge part of my problem with The Husband’s Secret). Although there is not a happily-ever-after feel to it, things seem to work out for the best for all of the characters. I don’t like being left with a bummer of a feeling at the end of a novel, but I do like to feel as if it is a naturally occurring ending, not one that is “staged”. I would like to say a little more about this, but I hate when reviews have spoilers in them (but feel free to talk to me more about this).
- I almost forgot…..I found the clips of interviews at the end of chapters a little confusing initially. I wasn’t clear if these were people I needed to try and remember or not. Once I realized they were just adding to the suspense of what happened, it was a relief to not have to remember who said what.
Overall, Big Little Lies is a solid book that I recommend. This novel will appeal to a wide range of readers with its diverse characters, suspenseful story line, and lovely setting.
What did you think of Big Little Lies? How do you think it compared to Moriarty’s other novels?