Pick of the Week: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty’s best-selling 2013 novel The Husband’s Secret was a big hit among our library patrons, and I think Big Little Lies will be equally popular -- it's a great read. Moriarty has a gift for addressing big issues with a light touch, and that’s exactly what she does in this new book. At Pirriwee Public, an upper-middle-class elementary school, a melee breaks out at a school fundraiser. The origins of the trouble lie in issues hidden beneath the surface of these apparently ordinary families: domestic violence, bullying, adolescent rebellion, and lots of bad parent behavior. Moriarty teases the reader right at the start with an account of the fight at the fundraising event, then goes back and explains the events of the school year leading up to it. She alternates perspectives between the three main female characters in the book and throws in hilarious quotes from bit players in the novel at the end of each chapter.
Big Little Lies brilliantly skewers suburban life. Although it is set in a beach town in Australia, it could just as easily have been here in Libertyville. She hits on so many aspects of modern parental life: the “mom cliques” in elementary schools (I laughed out loud at her description of the “Blonde Bobs,” the group of women that thinks they run the school); the parental obsession with “gifted and talented” programs; the ongoing conflict and judgment between working and non-working mothers. The characters are both frustrating and endearing. They’re a little bit caricatured, but this only contributes to the satire. And like any good satire, it exposes the worst parts of parenting and marriage in contemporary society.
This is a book you’ll really enjoy, especially if you’ve raised children in the last decade or two – and it will also make you think twice before you judge the mom or dad sitting across from you at open house in the fall.
(Many thanks to Penguin Group for providing me with an advance reader’s copy of this book. The release date is July 29.)