Liane Moriarty. Why? Because like a bag of potato chips this book was truly addicting. I couldn't just stop at one page.
This is a tragic, but darkly funny story about three mothers. All of them have problems. All of them lie to themselves on how to fix those problems. But at the end of the day, their tight friendship and the love they have for one another is what saves them.
It all started with trivia night. What was supposed to be a night of fun for the parents of Pirriwee Public School ended in a murder investigation. To understand how we got to this point, the author takes us back six months, to kindergarten orientation day.
Battle lines are quickly drawn on that day. Young single mom Jane and her five-year-old son, Ziggy, have just moved to the area. Jane and Ziggy are basically nomads, constantly moving and never putting down roots. But maybe this place will be different? Ziggy can make new friends. Maybe Jane can make some new friends? Fellow moms Madeline and Celeste immediately take Jane under their wings. Madeline becomes like a big sister to Jane, helping her with everything from school projects, to parenting advice, to life advice. It all comes in handy when Ziggy gets branded as a violent bully by Renata Klein, the queen bee mother of the kindergarten class. Renata's daughter, Amabella, accuses Ziggy of choking her. Ziggy denies the accusation, and Jane believes her son. Madeline and Celeste also believe Ziggy. Aligning themselves with Jane is tantamount to starting World War III. But Madeline doesn't care, she can't stand Renata anyway.
Madeline is a woman not to be messed with. She lives and dies for her family and her friends. But she is also funny, witty, and charismatic. She's also a fixer. She wants to fix everything and everyone. However, she struggles to fix her own family. She's devoted to her husband, Ed, and children, Abigail, Fred, and Chloe. But Madeline sees her ex-husband, Nathan, and his new wife, Bonnie, as threats. Bonnie is the cool one, she's a yoga teacher, a free spirit, compassionate about the environment and the world at large. Bonnie is everything that Madeline is not, which is very appealing to the impressionable Abigail. Despite her father being absent for most of her life, Abigail wants to spend more time with Nathan and Bonnie. Madeline tries to be OK with this. She tells Abigail what she wants to hear, but internally Madeline is a mess.
Celeste is also a mess, but no one can tell. Celeste is good at hiding her problems. She's also an expert at lying about her problems. She lets the outside world see what they want to see. Celeste always presents herself as the perfect wife to Perry, and the perfect mother to her twins, Josh and Max. The air of perfection is nothing but a facade. Every time Perry returns from one of his frequent business trips he gives his wife a beautiful gift. He's full of regret and remorse, but not for his absences -- for his behavior. Whenever Celeste "disrespects" her husband he hits her. He never hits her face, but everywhere else. And Celeste has gotten good at hiding her bruises. Each time it happens, Celeste makes excuses for Perry. If Celeste hadn't aggravated Perry, it wouldn't happen. If Celeste would just stop talking, it wouldn't happen. There's always a reason why it could have stopped. There's never a reason to leave, but there's always a reason to stay. She has physical freedom, but not the emotional freedom or fortitude to leave Perry.
Throughout the whole book, there is an air of mystery and intrigue. It's a compulsive read. With each chapter, we get closer and closer to the deadly trivia night. Everyone's lives reaches a crescendo on that night. Everyone has grown and become a better person leading up to that night. Life and especially death are not funny topics, but Liane Moriarty made them funny and heartwarming at the same time. I can't wait until the miniseries. I hope HBO sticks close to the book!