Big Little Lies Review

19486412(Summary via Goodreads) 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.


My Review of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

“Helicopter parents. Before I started at Pirriwee Public, I thought it was an exaggeration, this thing about parents being overly involved with their kids. I mean, my mum and dad loved me, they were, like, interested in me when I was growing up in the nineties, but they weren’t, like, obsessed with me…Mothers took their mothering so seriously now. Their frantic little faces…Ponytails swinging. Eyes fixed on the mobile phones held in the palms of their hands like compasses.”

The world of helicopter moms is one that I am familiar with because of my profession.  I’ve been lucky enough that my teaching career has not brought any petitions to expel students across my desk, but then again, it hasn’t featured any vodka-doused Trivia Night fundraisers either.  I found myself intrigued because this triptych-formatted novel connected to me in various ways, no matter if it was through the insecure single-mother, the overly aggressive, sarcastic head-of-a-blended-household, or the mom whose outward appearance to perfectly coasting through life made people wonder, “how does she do it all?”  I’m not a mother, yet I saw myself in each one of these women, and that is the true gift of an author.

“Every day I think, ‘Gosh, you look a bit tired today,’ and it’s just recently occurred to me that it’s not that I’m tired, it’s that this is the way I look now.”

“If she packaged the perfect Facebook life, maybe she would start to believe it herself.”

When I first began reading Big Little Lies, I didn’t know where the plot lines would take me or how they would intersect with one another.  The one commonality between Jane, Celeste, and Madeline was that they had children stating out kindergarten in the same classroom.  How typical their experiences must be for all the parents around the world.  The fear and insecurity of properly raising children, the hopes that the choices that they made are worth the grief they will put their spouses and children through, and withstanding the judgmental looks and commentary from other parents and well-meaning meddlers.  As the stories began to play out, and the relationships between the three mothers developed into a friendships, their truths began to surface.  It was a natural progression, and the reader became another trusted figure.  We too had to earn the trust to be let into the turmoil that motivated each woman to either act, react, or reflect.  And it’s this organic development that makes the characters believable and one that you can empathize with.  This is one of Moriarty’s greatest gifts: creating characters who are tainted, yet you want to see them succeed.  They are redeemable.

“Your inferiority was right there on display for the world to see.”

“All conflict can be traced back to someone’s feelings getting hurt, don’t you think?”

The tone is quickly established by Moriarty’s structural choices.  This story is told by direct narration, but also through clips of interviews conducted by local police detectives.  By switching back and forth in tenses, the reader is given glimpses into the conclusion of the conflicts, but is continually given tidbits as to how to determine their opinion.  Additionally, the sarcasm and flippancy shown by the parents on both sides of the conflict add to the authenticity of the plot.

“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”

“Stick with the nice boys…bad boys don’t bring you coffee in bed, I’ll tell you that for free.”

Ultimately, I loved this novel.  The combination of humor and tragedy created an experience for the reader that brought the characters to life.  The characters were both ridiculous and humane.  It’s an easy read that makes you want to turn the page to see where these conflicts are going to have to go for resolution.  Intrigue found on a kindergarten playground is rare, but Moriarty pulls it off.

 


Other books by Liane Moriarty:

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Book Polygamy Day Eight: Slowly But Surely

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My reading pace has slowed down considerably over the last few days.  I’ve had less time to sit and read, which is to be expected as the summer is starting to wind down for us.  I’ve spent some time at school, setting up my classroom and welcoming some new-hires for the ELA department.  I also spent some time at Barnes and Noble as well as preparing for my sister-in-laws’ visit coming up this weekend.  But there’s more to the story than just having time taken away from reading.

I’ve noticed that I’m being torn between wanting to read two of the five books that I’ve selected for myself.  I’ve really been enjoying your continued journey through Westeros in George R. R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings and diving deeper into the complicated lives of the Pirriwee Public School parenthood in Big Little Lies.  I’m following my heart and not equally dispersing my time to include my nonfiction title, Sylvia Plath: A Biography or Literary Fiction title, Sense and Sensibility.  There are no set rules to reading more than one book at one time, but I am starting to see that my natural reading tendencies are playing a larger role than I had thought.  But like I tell my students, sometimes it’s not so important what you read, just that you’re reading in general.

Book Polygamy Day Seven: It’s Ok to Change Your Mind

Notice anything new about my Goodreads’ “Currently Reading” list?

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The truth is, I’m really enjoying the pacing and experience of diving into all these different settings and plot lines, creating connections and opinions about characters that if I don’t feel it with a new book, I don’t really want to spend the time I would rather devote to another.  Sounds shallow, right?  Thank goodness my Reading personality isn’t the same as my approach to relationships.

I think I’ve also learned that I don’t want a lot of turnover all at once.  When I finished As You Wish and Haunted, it was only a day or so later that I also finished The Dinner and A Game of Thrones.  I admit that I was much more invested with the latter duo than the former, so maybe it was easier to fill in the literary void.  Now I’ve started on the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings, so I’m carrying that forward.  But my other three titles need to step it up!

Changes:

Longbourn19486412I can’t tell you what it was about Longbourn that made me stop, but it just wasn’t what I had been hoping for.  I wanted to be grabbed within the first chapter, and frankly it didn’t happen.  On paper (pardon the pun) it should have been an instant connection, but frankly I was bored and distracted.  It was my “Sweatpants” choice, so I’ve decided to switch over to Big Little Lies, a title that’s been on my Kindle for quite some time and deserves to be given a chance.

   

CanterburySense-and-SensibilityI’ve mentioned before that I am rereading The Canterbury Tales in preparation for my English IV’s 1st quarter, as it is the anchor text.  Well, when you’ve read and studied a text as many time as I have, you don’t need to spend a great deal of time doing a close read.  Needless to say, I was able to quickly go over the Prologue, The Knight’s Tale, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, and the Pardoner’s Tale.  In it’s place, I’ve decided not to completely give up the Jane Austen ship and read Sense and Sensibility for the first time.  I may even treat myself to watching the movie.

In Other Reading News

Clash of KingsA Clash of Kings has started out just as strongly as A Game of Thrones left off.  If you hadn’t been able to make a timely transition from the first to second book, Martin does a great job of recapping the important plot points necessary for carrying on.  The pacing is good and I found myself wanting to continue turning page after page, yet I knew that I would need to stop and take a break for real life responsibilities.

Man UpBut, once I was done being an adult, I started reading Man Up! by Ross Matthews.  It’s just as hilarious and endearing as the man who wrote it himself.  I can hear Ross’ voice narrating his memoir and it makes it even more enjoyable!