Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
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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 lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
Review by Brittany:
When reading this book (my fourth by this author), the one thing I kept thinking is how Moriarty makes the worst things happen to her characters, and I just love it. Celeste struggles with having a marriage that seems perfect but isn't quite. Madeline is struggling in her relationship with her teenage daughter. Jane is struggling with the paternity secret she keeps and with the possibility of her son being the kindergarten bully. All of these women have something going on that is painful and serious, and I reveled in each of their hardships.
I have two favorite things about this book: the exploration of bullying in different scenarios, and the development of relationships. The story centers largely around the kindergarten bully and figuring out which child is the one causing harm to others. But as readers, we also experience the often cliquey relationships between the parents and how they underhandedly bully each other. Even more serious is the case of domestic abuse that is explored throughout the story. This also connects to the relationship aspect of the novel because the relationship between the abused wife and her husband is tumultuous and often frustrating to a reader. It is hard to understand why she stays with him, but this is the crux of the problem in relationships like this. I also thought the relationship between Madeline, her ex-husband, his new wife, and her current husband was explored well. It's a four way relationship that is often strained, but the reader witnesses it shifting as the story progresses. Each character is on interesting footing with one another, and Moriarty did well with developing the relationship.
Overall I loved this book, as has been my experience with all of Moriarty's novels thus far. I definitely recommend!
All conflict can be traced back to someone's feelings getting hurt, don't you think?
Recently, she'd noticed something strange happening when she talked to people in groups. She couldn't quite remember how to be.
That was her fault. Maybe if she'd spoken nicely. Been more patient. Said nothing.
All around her was color: rich, vibrant color. She was the only colorless thing in this whole house.
If she packaged the perfect Facebook life, maybe she would start to believe it herself.
You were not meant to deal with complicated feelings of betrayal and hurt and guilt at your kids' athletics carnivals. Feelings like this should not be brought out in public.
It was a revelation that after all this time she could still feel something so basic, so biological, so pleasant.
Children did this. They sensed when there was something controversial or sensitive and they pushed and pushed like tiny prosecutors.
Nothing and nobody could aggravate you the way your child could aggravate you.
She'd swallowed it whole and pretended it meant nothing, and therefore it had come to mean everything.
It was interesting how you could say things when you were walking that you might not otherwise have said with the pressure of eye contact across a table.
When someone you loved was depending on your lie, it was perfectly easy.
There was a huge heavy block of pain lodged beneath her chest. Was this a heart attack? Was this fury? Was this a broken heart? Was this the weight of her responsibility?
She knew the way your mind could go round and round in endless pointless circles.
Of course he was right, he was always right, but sometimes doing the wrong thing was also right.