Wednesday, February 21, 2018

(Not Really) a Review of "Big Little Lies"

Really "good" books are elusive. Perhaps its because storytelling is so personal. A novel resonates with one person and strikes the next as complete drivel. Everyone gets something different from each story and the takeaways might be completely different than what the author intended. And so, I start a fair number of books that I don't finish. I browse reviews and suggestions. I choose carefully and hope against hope to avoid disappointment. Sometimes I go a full year without reading anything I'd recommend. The stories are too easy to put down and consequently take weeks to finish.

A couple of weeks back, friend gave me a copy of Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies.

"This is a really good book," she said. "I want it back when you're done. Take your time though."

My heart sank a little. I watched about two and a half episodes of the TV show. I might have kept going, but my husband, my evening television buddy, pulled the plug.

"These people are horrible and miserable," he said. 

A copy of Big Little Lies on loan from a friend. "Stephen King says this book is 'scary,'" my
daughter told me when she saw the cover. "Do you really think you should be reading it?"
I couldn't argue. There were some abrasive characters. We strive to avoid watching people argue for our entertainment. So my friend said, "the book is just like the TV show." Not a huge endorsement, I thought.

But I finally sort of forced myself to sit down and open this very comfortable paperback. I haven't read a physical book in ages and thought having to turn on a light and use a bookmark might be the end of me. I finished it in three days. Because it was that good.

Big Little Lies was riveting and funny. The story centers around domestic violence, but it somehow manages to treat the subject with appropriate levels of sincerity and levity. It's by far the best book I've read in a really long time. The characters were more likeable in print and the author didn't delve into graphic descriptions of abuse or explicit sex scenes. I still got the point. It even had a satisfying conclusion.

In the excitement of breaking a long streak of blah books, I went right to my local library (online, don't think I actually left the house!) and checked out another of Moriarty's books on my Kindle. It's just okay. I'm forced to realize once again that there are no guarantees, just vast shelves of books with virtually no way to predict if they're for me. Recommendations from Goodreads, Oprah's book club, and other people on Amazon have been hit and miss.

So I wait now for the next great read. One that captures my attention entirely so I can't even make my grocery list while I'm reading. One that keeps me up past bedtime. Have you read anything like that lately?