Monday, May 15, 2017

Review of "Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty




A little laughter and champagne lead three mothers to bond on kindergarten orientation day at Pirriwee Public School, located in a picturesque beach hamlet in Australia. The three moms central to the story are: Madeleine, a 40-year-old twice married fashonista who's mother to kindergartner Chloe and teenager Abigail; Jane, an unadorned 24-year-old troubled single mother of kindergartner Ziggy; and Celeste, a gorgeous thirtyish married woman with twin kindergartners, Josh and Max.

The drama begins when the moms arrive to pick up their kindergartners from orientation and little Amabella - daughter of uptight mom Renata - says Ziggy hurt her during class. Ziggy denies this and refuses to apologize. Eventually this and other incidents lead to the point where a mean-spirited petition is passed around among the parents, requesting Ziggy's suspension. Feisty Madeleine is incensed for her friend, Celeste is sympathetic, and Jane is worried - could her sweet little Ziggy really be a bully?.

As this is going on we learn more about the characters. We discover that Ziggy was conceived as the result of a disastrous one night stand; that Celeste is in an abusive marriage; and that Madeleine is furious with her ex-husband and having problems with her teen daughter. Moreover, we find out there's a speck of adultery in the school ranks and some dissension between parents and administrators. All this leads up to a tragic occurrence at 'Elvis Presley - Audrey Hepburn Trivia Night', a sort of costume party school fundraiser.

The story jumps back and forth between trivia night and the events leading up to it using narrative storytelling as well as snippets of conversation and inteviews that involve school parents, teachers, and administrators. Liane Moriarity masterfully builds the suspense as we get closer and closer to trivia night, where all the seemingly disparate elements of the story come together to cause the tragedy.

The book has plenty of interesting characters, including Madeleine's caring husband Ed and resented ex-husband Nathan (plus his new family), Jane's loving parents, Celeste's handsome, wealthy husband, school personnel, other parents, and Tom, the owner of the local coffee shop, Blue Blues - where a lot of relevant conversations occur. The story grabs and holds your attention, has the right amounts of drama and humor, and has a believable and satisfying climax.

Good book, highly recommended

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