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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Friday Link Up

Hello All!  I wanted to stop and take the time to share some of the great articles that I have read throughout the week.  Most of them are reading-related, but then again, some are just worth reading!  Enjoy!

Friday Link Up

 Buzz Worthy News: Twitter Fight Edition 21st July 2015

When We Read, We Recognize Words as Pictures and Hear Them Spoken Aloud from “Scientific American”

Quotes just because

book-riot

The Ultimate Guide to Books for Reluctant Readers Ages 14 to 15 by Karina Glaser

Which Literary Heroine Are You? Quiz

Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

MEDG (via GoodreadsGreg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.
Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

My Review

I have to admit that I chose to read this book because of a movie trailer for the Me and Earl and the Dying Girl film.  It was on limited released on June 12th of this year, but I have to wait until July 1st.  Find out when it comes to your town here.

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The book originally came onto my radar when I saw it mentioned several times on tumblr posts that conditionally encourages, “If you liked ________, then read _____”

If You Loved

I’ve read almost all of the “crying” and “lovey” books, so it was time to highlight my love of twisted humor.  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl did just that.

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The writing style is really what sets this novel apart from the other YA books.  Andrews utilizes a first person point of view, allowing the audience to get intimately acquainted with the protagonist, Greg Gaines and his cluster of a life.

“If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I do not blame you.”

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Greg is a wonderful tour guide through his life, his friendships and the lessons he’s learned about girls and attempts at being seen as more than just a pile of pudding to them.  He’s brutally honest and extremely self-depreciating.  He’s the anti YA male hero/protagonist.

“Usually it’s when your guard is down that you find yourself saying the most dick sentences of your life.”

“There are two kinds of hot girls: Evil Hot Girls, and Hot Girls Who Are Also Sympathetic Good-Hearted People and Will Not Intentionally Destroy Your Life (HGWAASGHPAWNIDYL).”

Despite the hilarious narrative voice, this book deals honestly with the heavy topics of teenage angst and the “coming of age” tropes: the launch from the home nest & making post-HS plans, friendship, difficult home lives,social anxiety, and of course, cancer.  I was hoping that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl would be able to stand apart from other successful YA novels, and some real stinkers, and not fall down the rabbit hole of becoming overly sentimental and pedantic.  Greg warns the audience several times throughout the novel that we shouldn’t set ourselves up for a love-scene or a grand epiphany about the true meaning of life.

“There was just something about her dying that I had understood but not really understood, if you know what I mean. I mean, you can know someone is dying on an intellectual level, but emotionally it hasn’t really hit you, and then when it does, that’s when you feel like shit.”

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While other novels, including my favorite The Fault in Our Stars, tend to glamorize parts of the dying process, it also mirrors the success in showcasing the gritty side of acceptance; acceptance that your life is going to change no matter how much effort you put into bringing things to a halt, acceptance that one major part of life is death and the dying process, and the acceptance that any attempts at removing yourself from the process is unacceptable.

“I might accidentally become like a hermit or a terrorist or something.”