Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Who would have thought that a story about gossip and kindergarten mothers could be so dark and suspenseful? What really cinches this book as a standout example of its genre are the solidly constructed characters and the successful interview-style framing. The sideline interviews with different characters not only heighten the suspense, but they also provide unreliable narrators so that you don’t know what’s really happening. Or, you do, but you can also see why gossip is causing a rift. There are two main mysteries: who dies at trivia night, and who is really bullying Amabella?
I loved the main characters. Jane, Madeline and Celeste are all people I would like to know in real life. The perfect name choices tickled me. Jane is plain, buttoned up and lives a simple life. Madeline is over-the-top in her attitudes and very feminine in her tastes. Celeste is heavenly beautiful but also kind of spacey. Bonnie is “good.” Most of the men are kind of secondary characters, less involved and less pivotal to the home lives, but they’re still people.
The book uses the teacher and the across-the-street neighbor’s point of view to directly mock modern parents who are a bit too wrapped up in their children’s lives. It indirectly mocks them through the overwhelming obsession these people seem to have with their children’s school lives. There’s a working-mother vs. stay-at-home mother tension, but it’s handled fairly well.
After I finished this book, I found myself going back over certain scenes to re-read them, just to enjoy them a second time. The twists kept me guessing until the very end, and I felt very satisfied with the resolution. I highly recommend this book as a very entertaining novel.