Day 909: Big Little Lies

Cover for Big Little LiesBest Book of the Week!
From the very beginning of Big Little Lies, we’re aware that someone has been killed, but we don’t know who, or why, or by whom. Liane Moriarty’s novel artfully builds suspense as it draws you in to care about certain of the characters.

The action of the novel is centered around Pirriweee Public School, and it begins six months before school trivia night, when the death occurs.

Madeline Mackenzie is taking her five-year-old daughter Chloe to kindergarten orientation when she has a small accident. Jane, the younger single mother of Ziggy, helps her, and Madeline and her friend Celeste befriend her. Jane is moving to the area in a few months when Ziggy will be in kindergarten with Chloe and Celeste’s twin sons Max and Josh.

During the orientation, the kindergarten teacher notices that someone has been choking Amabella, so she brings this up in front of all the children and parents, asking Amabella to say who hurt her. Amabella doesn’t want to say but ultimately seems to indicate Ziggy. Ziggy states clearly that he didn’t hurt Amabella, so Jane believes him.

However, Renata, Amabella’s high-powered corporate mother, starts a campaign with some of the other mothers to ostracize Ziggy. This begins with not inviting him to Amabella’s birthday party. All of this behavior escalates, and for a while I thought it might be taking on a comic edge, like the school-based nonsense caused by helicopter parents in Where’d You Go, Bernadette? But underlying it all is the knowledge that someone will end up dead.

And the characters have their secrets. Madeline, whose husband Nathan deserted her with a newborn baby 14 years earlier, is upset because he and his new wife Bonnie seem to be winning her older daughter away from her. And Jane’s and Celeste’s even darker secrets come out later.

This novel is striking in its ingenuity and in how much Moriarty brings you to care for its characters. I was deeply involved from beginning to end. The conclusion was eminently satisfying. I’ll be looking for more books by Moriarty.

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6 thoughts on “Day 909: Big Little Lies

  1. Naomi May 28, 2016 / 8:32 am

    I haven’t read any of her books yet, but a lot of people seem to love them. I will have to keep my eye out for them! I’m already feeling awful for Ziggy.

    • whatmeread May 28, 2016 / 9:39 am

      See, sometimes that makes me avoid them, but in this case, I really enjoyed it.

  2. Cecilia June 1, 2016 / 1:28 pm

    I took this out from the library but only got a few chapters in…I was probably reading it at the wrong time. Everyone I know loved this book, so I may give it another go.

    • whatmeread June 1, 2016 / 1:49 pm

      I thought it was really good. It kind of skewers helicopter parents.

  3. Carolyn O June 1, 2016 / 3:01 pm

    Yikes. As the parent of a school-age kid, I think this one would really bother me!

    • whatmeread June 1, 2016 / 3:14 pm

      The behavior of some of the parents is pretty troublesome, but the real problem turns out to be related to a particular family and an abusive parent. I don’t want to say more. The fact that these parents would try to ostracize a five-year-old for biting was pretty ridiculous but not unbelievable.

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