BIG LITTLE LIES, BY LIANE MORIARTY
The person who recommended it to me said it was "surprisingly good". I'm not sure what that means, I wasn't surprised at my enjoyment.
I guess it's because it's similar to Desperate Housewives, where a violent occurrence exposes all the problems going on inside suburbia households. (I'm not sure if "suburbia" applies here, since the book is set in Australia, but you get my meaning.) She never liked that show... I did like it, however, at least for a while, and I liked this book, too.
Synopsis: Instances of bullying in a primary school pit families of the children against each other. Their secrets are slowly revealed, until Trivia Night, when a murder happens and it all comes unraveled.
Overall enjoyment: Like I said before, I liked it. But there were a few problems, and this is definitely not the best book I've ever read.
Plot: It was well constructed. I especially liked how she built the suspense. There was nothing that felt like a reach in regards to the story and it flows very well.
Characters: Interesting, if a bit too common. They weren't stereotypes, but there was nothing special about them, either. All of the main characters are women and the story is centered around them.
World/setting: Australia, (I think) Gold Coast. But it's really not that important to the story.
Writing style: This is where I had my biggest problem. She doesn't write badly, far from it, but you can tell she wanted this to be a feminist book (although a very white feminist) and sometimes it reads too much like proselytism, like she's writing an essay instead of fiction. At other points, it feels more like a cautionary tale than a truly feminist one, like "don't sleep with strangers on hotel rooms".
Representation: That is another weak point of the book. Very white feminism. As far as I can tell, there is only a token black guy (whose skin color is described in terms of food, "latte in the winter, dark chocolate in the summer"), who is also the token gay guy. And then he turns out not to be gay, after all, so he and one of the main characters can fall in love. Of course, bisexuality does not exist.
Political correctness: There are some interesting discussions about female competition and the standards women have to live up to, but they're very naive and superficial. I like how she made sure to show that the "villains", the women on the other side of their "competition", weren't just crazy and envious but had their own, very valid, reasons for their behavior. One of the characters even acknowledges the lack of representation, going "we're very white, aren't we? Our bank accounts are the only things that make us different, there's very little color and there aren't any children with two dads or two moms." But the scene where the token gay guy goes "I'm not gay", and suddenly him and the broken girl are exchanging smiles and glances was just ridiculous.
In spite of all the problems, I did enjoy it. I'm not sure if I would read another one by Liane Moriarty, though. Maybe if I got it as a gift, I don't think I'd seek it out.
Up next: China Dolls, by Lisa See