My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words: LOVED IT!
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
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.
MY THOUGHTS (SPOILER-FREE):
Honestly, I picked up Big Little Lies because I really want to watch the tv show, but was determined to read the book first and saw some great reviews already for it. An adult contemporary / thriller is not something I regularly pick up, but I definitely should do it more often, because Big Little Lies was amazing. I loved every minute of it.
From the very first chapter you know something horrible happened. Someone is dead. But who is it? What happened? Who was involved? Those are questions that you are to slowly discover throughout the book. Every single action of all these characters leads up to that fateful night at the school trivia event. And the best part? I could not for the life of me predict what was going to happen. Honestly, I could see all of these characters becoming an (accidental) murderer or ending up murdered. The tension and mystery remains high until the very last moment when all is revealed and it is GLORIOUS!
Sounds pretty dark right? Yes, this book is definitely pretty dark. Other than the obvious murder, the plot deals with a lot of tough topics, such as rape, bullying, domestic abuse and the effects of said domestic abuse on children. And yet, it is all told with a sort of dark, biting humor that makes it an easy and addictive read. Though it deals with these dark topics, it is contrasted with the lovely suburban setting of a quaint little beachside community. Really, if you want to get an idea of the atmosphere, think Desperate Housewives.
Other than the mystery and dark humor, the characters are really the highlight of the story. Our three main ladies are all such well-developed and unbelievably real characters and I can truthfully say I enjoyed each of their POV’s equally. I never had a need to fast forward through the book to the next POV because each of them had her own unique narrative style and character that spoke to me and had me reading on.
Madeline is the suburban mom who is passionate, sassy, loyal and hot-headed. I loved her humor and her way of seeing things. Celeste seems to be living the dream: she’s beautiful, rich and has a gorgeous husband. Yet, things are never as they seem. Jane is the young, single mom who is new to town and seems to be dealing with some pretty big past trauma, which may have something to do with her son. These three unlikely women form a strong and powerful friendship when Madeline and Celeste take Jane under their wing and together they face all the trouble and hardships that come with being a kindergarten mother. And then some.
I also loved how the past events were connected to the main mystery by having all the secondary characters giving their statements at the end of every chapter. It tied the story together, the multiple views make the reader question everything even more and both adds to the humor as the mystery. It also helps show how their are so many sides to every story and everybody has their own opinion which is often based on gossip. It shows how we never really know what goes in in someone’s home.
Overall, I loved this book. The characters were deeply multi-dimensional, flawed, real and loveable (well, the three main characters were loveable anyway). The plot had me hooked from the very first chapter and the mystery was unpredictable and had me guessing until the very end. On to the tv show for me 🙂
“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.”
“Bonnie and her mum are both members of Amnesty International,” said Abigail.
“Of course they are,” murmured Madeline. This must be how Jennifer Aniston feels, thought Madeline, whenever she hears about Angelina and Brad adopting another orphan or two.”
“This was not the career she’d dreamed of as an ambitious seventeen-year-old, but now it was hard to remember ever feeling innocent and audacious enough to dream of a certain type of life, as if you got to choose how things turned out.”
“But every time she tried yoga she found herself silently chanting her own mantra: I’m so boooored, I’m so boooored.”
“As she drove the familiar route to the school, she considered her magnificent new age. Forty. She could still feel “forty” the way it felt when she was fifteen. Such a colorless age. Marooned in the middle of your life. Nothing would matter all that much when you were forty. You wouldn’t have real feelings when you were forty, because you’d be safely cushioned by your frumpy forty-ness.
Forty-year-old woman found dead. Oh dear.
Twenty-year-old woman found dead. Tragedy! Sadness! Find that murderer!”
“It’s because a woman’s entire self-worth rests on her looks,” said Jane. “That’s why. It’s because we live in a beauty-obsessed society where the most important thing a woman can do is make herself attractive to men.”