Wednesday night, I finished reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I’ve read all of Moriarty’s novels (granted, there are only six of them so far) and have enjoyed getting to know her voice and style. Big Little Lies is her most recent novel, and it has already garnered a lot of buzz from Hollywood – Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are both on board for a film adaptation of the book.

19486412The timing of this novel could not have been more poignant. One major element to the plot is domestic violence, something that has been getting mass media attention across the nation in the past few weeks. This book sheds light on why it happens (answer: usually for no reason at all) and to whom it happens (answer: anybody – absolutely anybody). It’s clear that Moriarty did her research, and she presented the issue in a very real way. I was able to relate to the characters in her story, and that made their issues seem more real to me and allowed me to understand them more. Since domestic violence is something I have never witnessed or experienced personally, it was like being let into another world – which I realized does not appear all that differently from my own. It rid me of a lot of preconceived ideas about the issue. I always thought “Of course I would know if that was happening to someone I care about or know!” but I realized with this novel that sadly, that’s not always the case.

With elements like domestic violence, this may not sound like a light read, but if I had to give you an idea of the “flavor” of the novel, I would probably compare it to Desperate Housewives (except I’ve never seen that show, so that’s a face-value judgment at best). This is more of a cranberry vodka-flavored novel as opposed to a shot of whiskey. In fact, fizzy fruity drinks play a big role in the climax of the book…#spoileralert.

The novel’s perspective alternates among the different characters, and each chapter begins with a transcript of a journalist’s investigation of the characters. The chapters are all leading up to one night – the Trivia Night – which is when a crime takes place (hence the investigation). It isn’t until the actual Trivia Night plays out that readers fully know what happened, and of course, that kept me guessing (and second-guessing everyone) the whole way through.

Pirriwee Public School is the school of choice for a beach town full of families with dramatic tendencies. The moms of the kindergarten class take “cliquish” to a whole new level as rumors of bullying among the kids and affairs among the adults begin to circulate in increasing intensity as the novel goes on. Jealousy, rivalry and haunting pasts play a role in each of the character’s lives.

My sister read this novel before me, and she was spot on when she said it really starts to pick up toward the end. I was about 60 percent of the way through it and suddenly I reached the cantputitdown stage. While kindergarten problems may seem silly on the surface, the way the book escalates the tension between the women and the way the reader becomes invested in their lives make this novel more than meets the eye. With Moriarty, you know what to expect, and this novel did not disappoint.

Rating: 3/5 stars
Stats: 480 pages
Recommended for: Anyone still not quite ready to put away the beachy reads of summer. This is a good transition novel for the seasons, as it introduces the idea of real life (ugh – school, work, colder weather?!) while taking place on a beach with quirky quips sprinkled in among the harder drama. It’s almost 500 pages long, but still struck me as a quick read that, if time allowed, could be devoured in a few days.

After reading this, I am more than ready to settle in for a nice long novel as the fall season descends on Indy. I think Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Goldfinch will be the perfect follow-up!

Up Next: Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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