Book Reviews Books for Adults

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

It’s no secret that What Alice Forgot is one of my favorite books.  I’ve read it twice, and enjoyed it both times (and raved about it here).

Then I read her next book, The Hypnotist’s Love Story, and was definitely underwhelmed (I actually can’t remember almost anything about that book now, except that I didn’t really care for it).

The Husband’s Secret shot her into the spotlight last year when it became a #1 New York Times best-seller and landing on all sorts of Best Books of the Year lists, and I liked that one better, although still not on the level of What Alice Forgot.

Now Big Little Lies is out (it came out in July – it took me a while to work my way to the top of the holds list), and I think it’s her next best after What Alice Forgot

It made me laugh, it made me think, and I ignored all sorts of vital tasks to finish it in two days (the sure sign of a good book for me).

It also had the same sort of amusing humor, true-life situations, and slight absurdity that made me love What Alice Forgot.

It’s one of those books where you don’t want to know too much about it going in – half the fun is watching it all unfold and wondering how exactly things are going to work out.

The main thing you need to know is that a parent died at trivia night at the local elementary school. The big questions are was it a murder? Was it an accident? And, through 95% of the book, the big question is WHO DIED?

The story introduces the death at trivia night, then jumps back about six months, working its way toward the big night. Interspersed with the story are interviews with various parents making accusations or denying any involvement with the mysterious death.

There are three main characters, all of them mothers of kindergarten students.

There is Madeline. Her youngest child is entering kindergarten, but her main focus is on her oldest daughter, Abigail, from her first marriage. Her husband walked out on them both when Abigail was just a few weeks old, but now he’s happily remarried and he and his wife live with their kindergarten daughter in the same village, which means Madeline is constantly running into them at school. Worse, Abigail is hugely taken with the new wife and increasingly seems to prefer her dad’s family to Madeline.

Then there’s Celeste. She’s beautiful and also ridiculously wealthy. Her kindergarten boys are super energetic little guys and from the outside, her life looks just about perfect. But, to no reader’s surprise, there’s more going on behind closed doors than meets the eye.

And then there is Jane. She’s a super-young, single mom, and just moved to the village with her only child, Ziggy. He gets accused of hurting another child during kindergarten orientation and instantly, some of the powerful parents in the kindergarten class are turned against both Jane and Ziggy.

The story alternates between the three of them as you find out more about their lives, their children, and what they’re keeping to themselves.

It’s an absorbing book with lots of plot lines, and I basically loved every minute of it.

I’m not much of a plot guesser (I like to pretend it’s because I’m such a fast reader, I have no time to be guessing, but I’m fairly sure the reason is that I’m just not all that clever), and I had no idea who was going to end up dead. If you’ve read it, I’m terribly curious about whether or not you guessed ahead of time who it was.

Digital copy checked out from my library

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  • Reply rebeccalately October 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I just finished this, too. I had no idea who had died! It was such a fun read.

  • Reply Amy October 16, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    I've been wondering if this one was any good, so I'm so glad you reviewed it! I loved What Alice Forgot and actually liked The Husband's Secret much more than I thought I would going in, so now I have high hopes for this one as well.

  • Reply KT October 16, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I really liked this one too, not as much as Alice, but a lot. The person who died was my number one choice, but I don't know if it was because I am a detective or because said person made me so furious I wanted him/her to be the one that died. Didn't see the killer coming at all though

  • Reply Megan October 16, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Was the language clean? I enjoyed the plot of The Husband's Secret, but was kind of put off by the language.

    • Reply Janssen October 22, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Frankly, I can't remember the language in The Husband's Secret, but I'm guessing Big Little Lies is similar. I read Big Little Lies in print, while I listened to The Husband's Secret, so I didn't notice the language in this one except for one two-page section.

  • Reply Mimsie October 16, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks for the review–I haven't read Alice or Lies yet, but on your recommendation will do so. I see LM also wrote "The Chaperone". Have you read that and did you like it?

    • Reply Janssen October 22, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      The Chaperone is actually by Laura Moriarty, not Liane Moriarty, and I didn't particularly love it. Kind of long and unmemorable for me, but I know lots of people loved it.

  • Reply preethi October 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Don't hate me but…I didn't love What Alice Forgot. I hope we can still be friends.

    But this sounds like such a fun read! Putting it on my holds now. (Number 168, bah.)

  • Reply Jessica October 16, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I loooove What Alice Forgot. I keep meaning to read more of Liane Moriarty's books, but all I've read is an early one. I can't remember the name of it, but it was the one with three sisters, I think? Very meh. Her newer ones sound great!

  • Reply Vanessa • Little Gold Pixel October 17, 2014 at 4:44 am

    This is the first Liane Moriarty book I read, and I LOVED it. Totally wasn't sure who died, but would I be a bad person if I said I was glad it ended up being that person? Ha. You said digital copy, so I assume you didn't listen on audiobook? Because the narrator's voice was awesome. I felt like booking a trip to Australia after immersing myself in her voice.

  • Reply Courtnee Garr October 19, 2014 at 5:33 am

    I just requested both of these from the library. Good to hear that you enjoyed both of them!

  • Reply Heather62 November 2, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Wanted to let you know that I found your blog through the Sew Mama Sew Handmade Holidays but now I'm hooked and subscribed because of your book reviews! Thanks so much for helping me decide what to read next. Even though I read over 50 books a year (I'm on #77 at present) I still feel like I have to choose wisely.

  • Reply Emmaco January 8, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Just got around to reading this one and loved it almost as much as Alice, remembered that you were the one who recommended that one so highly years ago and popped by to recommend Big Little Lies to you. But you got in first 🙂 I am not good at guessing mysteries (I'm either a fast or a lazy reader…) but wasn't surprised by the ending. Though I admit that it nearly killed me having to shut my book to get off the train just at the big reveal…I pulled it out to finish it at the next traffic light (I was walking so not as dangerous as it sounds!).

  • Reply Jennifer Lee January 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I just finished this and didn't know who was murdered until the moment the murder took place, and I LOVED not knowing. This was such a great read and I would definitely recommend it.

  • Reply Grace December 9, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    I might not read it because I’m currently watching the HBO series with Reese Witherspoon. IT’S SO GOOD! I binge-watched half the series on an overnight flight, and I can’t wait for my return trip to binge the rest. Have you watched it?

  • Reply Sarah January 16, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    I haven’t read it but watched the TV series which was BRILLIANT!

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