Liane Moriarty has well-established herself as a writer of women's fiction, mostly mystery and suspense; but not the "sleuth" type of mystery, the everyday housewife conundrums that plague the suburban landscape. She tells the secrets of women whose children attend prep schools and live quiet lives of desperation. Her novel Big Little Lies is currently debuting as an HBO mini-series and I'll be watching along with the rest of my book club- we love to read her work.
The novel volleys between different dates and times following the strained friendship of Erika and Clementine and the awful event that happened at the impromptu neighborhood bbq. Throw in an Italian style super friendly guy and his stripper wife, a few eccentric mothers, some tired fathers/husbands, and children - and there's the cast of characters.
Now - I don't write them like this to dismiss them, but for me the suspense of finding out what happened at the bbq interspersed with details from the character's lives became a background story. The real story for me dealt with the awkward friendship of Erika and Clementine; a friendship forced upon them by Clementine's mother and her over-the-top need to "kind" for all the world to see (and this is why it's "over-the-top" - because it seemed all for show) and Erika's distraught childhood of being raised by a hoarder.
The psychology of the novel was good - there was clear research in to how being raised by someone with a mental disorder impacted the life of her child; however, their adult lives made me uncomfortable. And I find this is what I actually found intriguing - this is what kept me reading. I think it was the issue of friends that aren't really friends that I found so interesting - much like romantic relationships, friendships often lull into an idea of being friends because we've been friends for so long. I cherish my long term friendships, and love them dearly; yet, have had to let some go over the course of my life out of sheer self-preservation and maturity. Clementine and Erika fall into the latter category and I kept waiting for the moment in the book where they would simply let go so they could be happy. You'll have to read to find out if that was a satisfying ending 😉
Overall, this was probably the weakest of Moriarty's novels for me - sadly (another adverb to add to the title). I really didn't care what happened at the bbq - it labored on for too long and when the event does happen, while tragic and upsetting, quite anticlimactic. I also despised the stripper and her cavalier attitude toward what she did, how she did it, and those she hurt in so many ways. If Moriarty was attempting to display and relate the reality of a stripper's mindset for all the world to see - she did. The woman was an absolute twit and drew no sympathy from me.
Unfortunately she only gets ☕☕ for this one. I'm glad I've read other books by her though, because had this been the first, it would have been the only.
Maybe next time...