Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty

Summary: Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm. (Summary and image from

Review: Have you ever finished a book and sighed with contentment?  What about slammed a book shut, furious at the ending? How about gently closing it because you're crying too hard to do anything else?  Okay, how's this one - confusedly shut the book, cock your head to the side, and think "Huh ...".  Bingo.

I'm still confused about my feelings for this book. I liked it. I like all of Moriarty's books. She knows how to write Mom-Lit so well! And I still think back to her skill with Big Little Lies and can't help but marvel how amazingly well she constructed it. But this isn't Big Little Lies.

Let's start from the very end. Characters who should never cross paths are perfectly connected, not into a forced connection, but so organically it works. The characters are all flawed, as well as deep. They all have stories needing to be told, even if those stories are a little trite.  Their relationships are complex, they ebb and flow, and they, as her other books, are why I enjoy her writing so much.  But the storyline? It wasn't my favorite. The characters felt a little too flawed.  Their conflict felt all-too-real and yet so terribly foreign. I just couldn't identify with this novel as well as I could with the others she's written. Their choices, their immaturities, I kept wanting to shake the book and shout "USE YOUR WORDS!!" at them, in the hopes they'd grow up a bit and start to behave.

Oddly enough, I've never been able to get characters in other people's books to behave the way they should. (Otherwise, Harry and Hermione would be happily married in the epilogue of The Deathly Hallows.) I'm left with this slightly frustrated feeling of a story slightly off.  (That being said, there's one resolution I absolutely love.)

Rating: Three stars

For the Sensitive Reader: One of the characters is a former stripper and takes joy in being a little too sensual.  It's a main theme.

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