What up, what up, my rainbow sparkle pony gangstas? I hope life is super fly and that you have infinite chill, unlike me, who has, as the kids are so fond of saying, zero f*cking chill. I won’t go into detail, but I will say that the career prospects have taken an expected but nonetheless devastating turn. *Cough* unions *cough,* you know. WHY IS IT SO HARD TO BE A LIBRARIAN? SOMEBODY PLEASE LET ME SHUSH PEOPLE ON A PROFESSIONAL LEVEL, THAT IS ALL I WANT IN LIFE. God.
Today we’re talking about myrrhder.
I will never stop finding that funny, rip vine.
So I read Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies this week, mostly because if it’s good enough for HBO, it’s good enough for me goddammit. I mean, HBO made Deadwood, right? Therefore they are forever without sin in my eyes. BUT I honestly wasn’t expecting to like it. If reading critically for this blog has taught me anything, it’s that I’m an insufferable genre snob and should be deeply deeply ashamed. Well, jokes on me, because I really liked this book. Tsk tsk, Robyn, you fool, when will you abandon your foolish genre prejudices and learn that stories are complex, multi-faceted things that defy easy categorization? WHEN?
Okay, let’s do this thing.
Cover Talk: Atrocious.
The Summary Heist: Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
Robyn Says: Excellent. Worthy of the hype – and I can see why it’s been made into a TV series. It’s got that cinematic momentum, that perfect pacing that made me want to keep reading every time I reached the end of the chapter. I’ve written a lot
of fanfiction (shut up) and I know how difficult it is to keep your story taut without feeling rushed. So hats off, to Moriarty.
I thought the characters were exceptional. Each of the three protagonists were fully realized, well-rounded characters, and I’m surprised at how well the points of view were balanced. It truly felt like an ensemble piece. I really wish I could find a way to fit the three of them into the maiden/mother/crone trope, because who doesn’t love that one, but I’d say instead that each of the three women – Madeline, Celeste, and Jane – felt like a combination of all three “life stages.” I especially appreciated the depth given to Madeline’s character, who felt like the most ‘normal’ of the three. It would have been easy to reduce her to a stereotypical, overbearing suburban mom, whose problems are insignificant when compared to the struggles Jane and Celeste are facing, but Madeline is never made ridiculous. Her problems might not be the kind that warrant special episodes of Degrassi Jr. High, but they’re still problems, the kind that most of us deal with every day.
So. I should probably mention now that the novel contains incidences of domestic abuse. The cover copy quoted in my Summary Heist doesn’t really make that clear, so I guess *spoiler,* but I think it’s important to mention. None of the scenes are graphic, but it was still jarring to read. Some stuff was… unsettling, at least for me, to read.
But let’s move on.
The story itself was great – darkly funny and cleverly plotted. I loved the way the stories intersected, too, and the big finale scene was genuinely surprising. The supporting characters were delightful, too, and I thought that Moriarty did a stunning job of creating a well-written, enjoyable story that deftly explored themes of motherhood, female friendships, and self-love.
The small details were really great. There’s this one little drama involving the kindergarten class’s communal stuffed toy, Harry the Hippo. The toy is shared amongst the children, who each get a chance to take it home over the weekend. When Harry goes missing, the tensions that had been simmering below the surface come to a boil. It was so absurd and so damn real.
Verdict: Read it. And try to read it before watching the series. This is my rule for any adaptation, but I think it’s particularly true for this one. I’m going to enjoy seeing how my vision of the story compares to HBO’s.
Best lines: I highlighted so many lines, but then when I went back and looked at them, they were all about abuse Since we don’t have enough time to sort through my deep-seated issues and repressed PTSD, have one that’s a little lighter.
“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”
Same, girl. Same.
Fancasting couch: The show seems to have done a pretty good job casting the leads, so I’m gonna just leave this link right here.
Book Boyfriend material: None. It’s okay, I’ve got plenty to keep me happy.
Rating: 8 our of 10 stuffed hippo toys. Rip Harry the Hippo, we hardly knew ye.
ROBYN’S FINAL THOUGHT: Kids can be evil little monsters, can’t they?
Oh, here’s Book Cat.
Touchy. Must be a good book.
Later, my dudes.