Book Review: Big Little Lies

Do you remember those girls in elementary school who were so perfect they were intimidating, whose compliment on your lunchbox made your entire week, and whose shoes you were always eyeing with jealousy? Well now those girls are all grown up with their own kindergartners and someone wrote a book about them.

They have everything, the big shiny SUVs, the perfect volunteering resume and the rich husbands with perfect kids to match. Only now, one of them is a murderer and it all started on the kindergarten playground...

This is Big Little Lies and there's nothing little about it. It's everything we've been missing since Desperate Housewives went off the air. The entire book has momentum that just keeps building and building. Not a lot can surprise people these days but this book definitely has the punch. 

The character development is great. I could see a little of myself in each of the mothers, the good and the bad. It is a great illustration of how far mothers will go to ensure their children are protected and loved, but also shows the pitfalls of our competitive human natures and our need for acceptance.

First, you meet one of my favorite characters, Madeline. I kept imagining Terri Hatcher's character in DH. She's lovable in her vulnerability but she's just just as much a scheming ladder climber as the rest of them. She's also the queen gossip which makes her always entertaining. I always appreciate when an author is able to write comically such as Moriarty does in this book. I laughed out loud, which doesn't happen often enough when I read! 

Jane and Celeste are two other characters that I couldn't get enough of. I honestly wish each of these ladies would have had their own book that I could dive into. The book lets you get a glimpse into each of theirs lives- but only enough that you get to know them, not enough for you to really know who's responsible for the dead body. Even though you'll find that there may be possibility any of them is capable it, because they all have a little crazy showing. 

The plots and twists start when one child accuses Jane's son of choking her on the playground. That's when the claws come out and the moms start teaming up against each other.  Then comes the competition that seems to be ever present among mothers and their children. Each mom is fighting to be the most involved, to look the most put together, to throw the best birthday party. As you learn about each character and their own struggles, background and home lives, you begin to feel a momentum build up that leads to a confrontation that's a totally satisfying climatic conclusion. 

One wife is hiding a horrific secret and silently suffering. Another is hiding her shame, another tries to masks her insecurities with false confidence. There's one who is raising her daughter alongside her ex husband and his new family, and another with no friends in sight. I could relate to so many of their situations.

It's a great "murder" mystery for anyone who doesn't like all the blood and guts that comes with most thrillers. It kept me guessing until the end and when it all came crashing down, I had to reread the whole scene because I was so caught off guard. It's a breezy read, perfect for summer, but it is also heavy enough, because of the emotional issues, that it sucks you in long after you've discovered the culprit. 

I feel like this one of the most vague book reviews I've ever written but it's just that I don't want to give anything away. Just know that there's a great story line that moves fast, there are cliff hangers, funny "little lies" peppered in through out the story from outlying characters and a build up to a really great ending.

Read it. Read it to be thankful that most moms are not this crazy (at least none that I have seen...yet), and because you'll be reminded that everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. 

Book Review: The Rosie Project

Lately, I have been hitting the good book mother load. 
As in, I've been so buried in them I don't have time to write about how good they are. 
Which is just a shame because my favorite thing about good books is telling people about them and nearly ruining the plot for them.  Just kidding, I would never do that, I promise. 

So, I bring you The Rosie Project

"An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love."

This book has the most lovable unlovable character I've ever met. Don Tillman is a genetics professor who is so socially challenged, it made me giggle out loud. He's oddly charming, too smart to relate to normal people and over the top obsessive compulsive. All things that have been stacked up against him and his goal to find a wife. Until he decides to start the Wife Project. He comes up with pages and pages of questions he thinks he can hand to women to fill out and it will help him weed out the ones he deems ill-equipped for marriage.  
He times his evenings down to the minute. He has a system for the meals that he prepares identically each week. He is literally living on autopilot. I wanted to believe at first he was just a little kid with an "aw, shucks" personality, whose mother just cut up his steak for one too many years as a child, but as I read more about Don's character, I began to realize that he was an adult with a brilliant mind that was struggling to handle social norms. The book explores many interesting facets of autism and human nature. Topics which I've found myself skirting around, never fully understanding or comprehending. Don's story changed that for me. I don't get it all now, but somehow, Simision really hit the nail on the head by creating a character whose shoes are so well written, you feel like you actually are walking in them.

Don knows that he should have a wife because that is what is expected in life, but he doesn't have the capabilities of understanding the concept of loving a woman enough to marry her. 
Until he meets Rosie. 
Now, if I thought I loved Don, then I love Rosie just as much. She's punky, she's sassy, she's smart. But she's also hurt and a little lost and desperately searching for any connection to a life that means something. She has a question she's been searching to answer her whole life and stumbling upon a obsessive-compulsive, lonely genetics professor weirdly  has a way to help her find it. 

“But I’m not good at understanding what other people want.’
‘Tell me something I don’t know,’ said Rosie for no obvious reason.

I quickly searched my mind for an interesting fact. 
‘Ahhh…The testicles of drone bees and wasp spiders explode during sex.” 

Both Rosie and Don are completely caught off guard by the concept of love. One, because she wasn't even looking. And the other, because he didn't even know he was capable of it. 
There are were twists in this story, but for the most part, I knew how it was going to end. Normally, I'd put that in a con category but I loved Don and Rosie so much, knew they went together so essentially, that I was okay with the predictability.  I was surprised and satisfied at the same time. It was just that kind of book.

My recommendation? Read it. Read it on a weekend where you are feeling a little disenchanted by the power of love, or when you are tired of thinking people don't still do nice things for each other. Because they do. Because love is still enchanting. Nice, compassionate people who care about others, who want to do each other favors, who are genuinely affected by what happens to the people around them, they do exist. Sometimes it just takes our own selves to move outside of our comfort zones, to ignore social barriers or norms, and scale those obstacles to find each other. For Rosie and Don, for me in my own life, jumping those walls has been worth all the while.