What Alice Forgot). She also manages to produce a story of great depth, exploring emotions and dilemmas the common man can relate to. She peoples her books with interesting flawed characters and puts them in unbearable circumstances (both The Husband's Secret and this one, Big Little Lies). Her writing is smooth and easy-to-read and her dialogue is realistic (although I missed listening to this one in audio form so that I could relish the Australian accent).
Big Little Lies plunges the reader into schoolyard politics and the powerfully intense emotions parents feel when their child is threatened either by a bully or by lies spread about them. But the story goes far deeper than the lie told about one small boy, accusing him of bullying. It ends up revealing all sorts of lies the grown-ups are telling themselves and each other. As the back cover proclaims, it 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."
I loved the characters. First there is feisty Madeline, who wonders how it is possible that the same ex-husband who abandoned her with their daughter is now a fellow parent of a kindergarten student with her own youngest daughter. Even though she is happily married, she must fight off mounting resentment as her older daughter looms further and further into her ex-husband's household instead of her own. The step-mother is introducing the teenager to a whole new way of life focused on vegan diet and social activism.
Next, the reader meets Celeste, a beautiful picture-perfect mother of twin boys. Celeste has her own demons to battle. Though her bank account comes through for whatever she desires, her deepest desires go unfulfilled.
Finally, we meet Jane, a single mother who has just moved to their small coastal community. When her son is accused of bullying a child, Jane is unsure what to believe. He adamantly denies it and she strongly wishes to believe him, but she harbors her own doubts. As Madeline and Celeste befriend Jane, they position themselves against the accusing mother, with her own cohorts.
What begins as a simple story of schoolyard scandal ends in death. Questions loom over the whole tale: Who is dead? Who is responsible? How did the parent social event dissolve into chaos and lead to criminal investigation? Moriarty pulls the reader in, all the while providing snippet after snippet of revelation yet holding fast with intense suspense. I cannot help but highly recommend this book. Even though it is long, it reads quickly and will leave you thinking about the story for a good long time.