Review: Big Little Lies by: Liane Moriarty

I can’t count how many times I will see a movie or TV show trailer and think, “I’d read that book.” I will usually just stroll into my local Half Price Books and just pick up something based on the summary. Other than that, trailers are probably the best way to stir up interest in a book for me.

This was the case with Big Little Lies.

I saw the trailer for the new HBO show and was immediately sucked in. I immediately wanted to know more about the competitive nature of the women and how it all boils over in this story.  So a few weeks later when I saw it on sale, I picked it up! (Of course, adding to my giant list)

The book follows the lives of three women, Madeline, Celeste and Jane as they are intertwined while their children attend kindergarten together. They all have very different personalities and hide secrets from each other, despite their friendships. In this town, the school moms are constantly trying to outdo one another and rivalries tend to flare up between the cliques. This is catalyzed when Jane’s son, Ziggy, is accused of attacking another child on orientation day. Interspersed throughout the story, we read snippets of interviews from other moms as the police are trying to figure out how one of their own has died.

I’ve been discovering a love for mysteries, and having witnessed a similar form of “mommy competition” in my hometown, I was in. With the start of March, I was excited to read this book. Unfortunately I don’t have an HBO subscription, but at least I could immerse myself in this juicy tale by reading it! It was almost 500 pages, so it was one of the longer books I’ve read so far this year and I was reading a nonfiction Advanced Reader Copy I won on Goodreads at the same time. So this took me a bit longer than I expected. It started out a bit slow, and was light at the beginning, even though the intrigue was definitely there. It felt like I was being eased into the story and taking in the environment and characters so I could understand the stakes of the murder. But as chapters passed, the stakes kept rising and I was hooked. In fact, when I had about 200 pages left, I told my husband, “I’m not doing anything until I finish this book.” I wasn’t joking either, I finished it that night.

My favorite character was Madeline. She’s everything I wish I could be. She’s not afraid to start shit with anyone if it feels necessary, loves all the finer things in life and demands the best for those she cares about. I share many of her thoughts and feelings, I just do my best to keep them inside. I can’t deny that I’ve been tempted myself to get out of the car and tell someone off for texting and being the entire cause of a traffic jam.

I am resisting sharing too much of the mystery of it all because I know some people might not have read it (and the show hasn’t revealed it either!) But it’s such a fun story. Even though it covers some serious topics, Liane Moriarty has a great tongue-in-cheek perspective of it all. One moment she had me holding my breath as I thought a character was about to meet their maker, and the next I was snickering at the narration.

Now for the important questions as I make my way down my list:

Will I keep this book? I don’t think so. I’m going to lend it to my mom because I think she will love the sarcastic manner in which the catty moms are handled. But since I know the mystery, I don’t see myself reaching for it again.

Who would like this book? Anyone who likes mysteries I think could get into this. It’s not particularly dark or anything, so I think contemporary readers might enjoy this as well. If you’re looking for a book with lots of interesting characters and perspectives, definitely consider this one. The way these  build up to the climax showing different motivations and struggles is great. You care about all the characters, and by the time the trivia night comes around, you don’t really want anyone to die. (Except maybe one)


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