Read May 19, 2020 – May 22, 2020
We’re talking about the book here, not the HBO series. I chose Liane Moritary’s novel after it popped up as a suggested read on GoodReads – the description interested me and Moritary’s writing gets pretty consistently good reviews so I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot. After having finished the novel I did decide to watch the HBO adaptation and they didn’t do a terrible job but we all know the book is always better. If you’re a fan of the show, just know that we get so much more inside of the characters’ heads and there are quite a few changes that were made when bringing it to life, including an entire second season that takes the story further than what we see within the novel.
What is it about?
Here you’re following the lives, and perspectives of, multiple women who are in varying statuses within their romantic relationships and all have a child – or two – entering kindergarten at the same school. You’re made aware immediately that someone died; the narration switches from dialogue interview between a detective and various townspeople, back to narration of what is going on during the time leading up to the death. It’s suspected to be a murder and you, the reader, are investigating the murder alongside the detective as you read.
The novel is set in Australia, which I honestly didn’t even realize initially but when I did I found it refreshing; I haven’t interacted with that setting before. There is a young single mom new to town, a beautiful woman in an abusive marriage, and a divorced couple who both remarried but are living in the same school district – both having children from their new marriages about to enter kindergarten. You get to see the drama between the couples, tension at the school from day one – a child tries choking out another at orientation – and you’re left trying to find out who died until the very end.
What does it have?
- Mom Life
- Domestic Abuse – TRIGGER WARNING, it’s bad
- Who-Done-It meets Who’s-It-Done-To
- Schoolyard Drama – PTA much?
It’s a wonder all these characteristics meet in one story but it makes you think – what’s really going on behind closed doors of those you interact with? The highs may be high but the lows can be frightening. “Other people’s problems always seemed so surmountable, and other people’s children so much more biddable…” (Big Little Lies). You get to see and problem solve for others while thinking about what you might have done in similar situations. Would you leave an abusive husband? Tell you child who their father is if he didn’t already know? Would you stick up for your kid being accused of bullying another or punish him simply from an accusation?
Is it worth reading?
Yes! I’d say it’s even worth reading if you’ve already watched the HBO adaptation because it’s different…and better. Let me put a common concern you to rest… you don’t need to be a mom to connect with the characters – I’m not a mom and I found much of what happened relatable enough to pick sides during conflict. I read a couple of reviews before starting to read and some people were overly concerned with that aspect. Trust me, it won’t matter. I couldn’t put the book down – well I did put it down but I didn’t want to! One thing I will say about the domestic abuse – I wish I had known how intense it was before I had read the novel. You really get to see the internal negotiations and bargaining that the victim goes through and it’s heartbreaking; it can be a trigger if you’ve suffered physical or emotional abuse. If that applies to you, proceed with caution.
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