Synopsis (From 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.
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.
Review:I read Big Little Lies, by Laine Moriarty, because a friend gave me a copy. I didn't know anything about it. At first, I wasn't really sure which country the book was set in (which is my due to my America-centric POV). Finally I realized that it was set in Australia. I think it was hard to know because I could so easily identify with the premise: the book takes place around an affluent elementary school in a small town. I work at such a place here in the U.S.
This book was so much fun, and yet it was also a powerful take on domestic abuse, and the day-to-day difficulties of handling custody when there is a divorce.
The book uses the interview format that seems to be so popular in books right now (I think this is the fourth book I have read lately that is using this device). It works really well here as it helps establish early on that there is a death. But who died, how did they die, and most importantly, Why? It is also a fun way to show how so many people can be present at the same event but have totally different memories of it.
If you read this and think that the scenes at the school are over the top, then think again. I have seen some of this stuff first hand. In the interest of keeping my job, I will not elaborate. But trust me, these scenes are quite accurate (minus the whole death thing, of course).
I loved that each person tried so hard to seem like they were perfect (through social media, especially), and yet they had struggles with relationships, self-doubt, and jobs, just like everyone else. When I see my friends posting about their perfect weekends on Facebook, I tend to not realize that they also had to do other, less glamorous, things on the days off like grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning. I will look at their posts and think, "Oh, they always have so much fun on the weekends. Why can't I?"
There is also one of the most difficult and most hidden parts of some lives represented in this book: domestic abuse. I thought the people in the book showed how complex these situations are. Most of us tell ourselves that of course we would walk out if our spouses every hit us. I think the book makes the point that domestic abuse is not only about physical altercations, but is about constant emotional manipulation as well. This makes it hard for the victim to recognize what is really going on.
If I am making this book seem like a super serious 'issue' book, it is not. This is definitely a fun book with characters and situations we will all recognize. This is also a great mystery. As the climax nears, we wonder who is the one to die? It is really suspenseful.
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Source: Borrowed from a friend (Thank you)
Format: Paperback book
Recommendation: A very funny parody of school politics and helicopter parents, with serious undertones. A great book for the summer.