The summer is still young – or at least that’s how I choose to look at it since my vacation (read: peak reading time) comes later in the summer – but my favorite read so far is Big Little Lies by Australian author Liane Moriarty.
I discovered Moriarty this year with The Husband’s Secret and What Alice Forgot. Although these were both excellent reads, Big Little Lies was my hands-down favorite.
Feisty Madeline and beautiful Celeste are mothers of kindergarten children at the idyllic Piriwee Public School, where children ‘learn by the sea’. Madeline and Celeste quickly befriend single mother Jane, who has recently moved to town with her young son.
The three are quickly drawn into the ‘wholesome and nourishing’ environment of Piriwee Public, until playground politics get out of hand. The presence of so many helicopter parents leads to a minor incident ballooning into a full-scale battle, where parents are expected to take sides with Cold War decisiveness.
Meanwhile, many parents have been harboring a series of secrets and lies. As those begin to unravel, the outward facade of the perfect community begins to crumble.
As we join the story, the local police are investigating the death of one member of the Piriwee public community, and readers are left to wonder if the deceased is a victim of modern parenting run amok.
Although the story is mostly told through the perspectives of Madeline, Celeste, and Jane, various parents present their points of view during the ongoing police investigation as we move backwards in time and describe events in the months and weeks before the suspicious death.
Moriarty is brilliant in capturing the different voices of so many characters, and anyone who has kids in school will (sadly) recognize the eerie familiarity of parents who are far too involved in every aspect of their children’s school lives. Readers fear the impending train wreck, as we watch a minor incident being mishandled and blown out of all proportion. And the voices taking part in the ensuing investigation, offering us various points of view, misinterpreted events, and hilarious insight into playground politics are brilliantly handled. Even though it’s not the main point of the novel, the ‘whodunit’ angle is enjoyable, too, and keeps you rapidly turning pages.
What can I say? A fabulous summer read. Crack out the lemonade, listen to the sound of the waves and enjoy …