Saturday, August 23, 2014

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

What happens when kindergarten school politics turn deadly? Murder, that's what, or was it simply a tragic accident?

Delicious, juicy, and just a little bit naughty, this latest release from author Liane Moriarty follows her hugely successful The Husband's Secret. I'll predict you'll find this one hard to put down. It's just too much fun.

Allow me to introduce to you the mothers of Pirriwee Public School.

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with; she's witty and sarcastic and influential; a much better friend than enemy. It must be hard for Madeline to have her ex-husband's daughter (with his bubbly new wife) in the same kindergarten class as her own youngest child, Chloe. To outsiders, this blended family gets along famously. However, Madeline harbors resentment in the way her marriage ended. She looks in the mirror and realizes you can't turn back time. It's so hard to plaster a smile on your face day after day. Yes, it's not easy being Madeline Mckenzie.

Celeste is simply gorgeous. Strangers stop and stare while women envy her natural beauty. As the mother of rowdy, adorable, identical twin boys, she should wake up each morning counting her blessings. Husband Perry is a prominent businessman, doting father to his children, often traveling to faraway places, returning with lavish, expensive gifts for the family as the children squeal with delight. Celeste quietly puts away her trinkets and jewels with a sadness in her heart, knowing someday she will leave Perry. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors. Yes, it's not easy being Celeste White

Jane is the young, single, gum-chewing mother of Ziggy, the  result of a one night stand she'd rather not discuss. They moved to this coastal town in Australia to start over in obscurity but she now finds herself immersed in a world of back-stabbing gossip. When her son is accused of bullying, battle lines are drawn. There are those who believe Ziggy is innocent and those who shun him. Jane knows all too well how little lies can turn into big ones. Yes, it's not easy being Jane Chapman.

The reader knows from the onslaught that a horrible accident occurred on an evening of fun known as School Trivia Night. Spirited parents who have too much to drink turns into a lethal nightmare. From there it's one guessing game after the other as to the victim's identity and circumstances leading up to the shocking end. The clues are there. The clever plot twists and well-developed characters combine with wit, humor and the shocking reality of shameful secrets to make this novel one of the most compelling books I've read in a long time. You won't put it down.

It's just too much fun.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sing In The Morning, Cry at NIght

Sing In The Morning, Cry At Night by Barbara J. Taylor

Grief visits Grace again that day, just like he did twenty years ago when her father committed suicide. He never really leaves, just waits silently for the perfect time to surface again, taunting her this time with the horrific memory of the day her precious daughter, Daisy, died. It was supposed to be a memorable Fourth of July celebration, complete with a special surprise from her husband, Owen, for his two extraordinary daughters. Instead, a terrible accident involving fireworks propels a family into a dark abyss of sorrow and heartache that threatens their very existence. And once again, that old imaginary friend, Grief, returns in all his glory to torment Grace in ways she could never imagine.

The story takes place in the early 1900s in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the heart of coal-mining country. Owen Morgan labors daily in a dangerous, tedious job to put food on the table for his family. When tragedy strikes, he begins to realize that his family is torn beyond repair. Grace secretly blames her other daughter, Violet, for the accident as does everyone in town. Owen turns to drink, abandoning his family, unable to cope with life's injustice.

It is young Violet who perseveres through the hurt and misery. She meets scrawny Stanley Adamski and together they forge a friendship that becomes the anchor she needs to withstand the events that will ultimately shape the future.When a debilitating snowstorm tests every ounce of strength she has, Violet becomes her own mother's savior.

Based on true events in the author's life, this novel certainly is one worth reading. She accurately and forcefully describes the life of a coal miner, complete with the loneliness and imminent fear they face every day deep underground. You will empathize with the despair and hopelessness of losing a child. You will rally around a child that is forced to become an adult when those around her cannot cope with loss. And you will cheer a mother who has the strength to overcome Grief. In the end it is a story of survival.

Interspersed with compelling descriptions of religious tent revivals and verses from old church hymns, Barbara Taylor takes you back to a place and time that truly existed in coal mining communities. She manages to develop many minor characters along the way that play a pivotal role in the plot often with a touch of humor. This first time author writes with emotion and heart, of never looking back, only looking to what lies ahead.

"You can relive a moment again and again and again. But you can't change it. That's the tragedy of time".