A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable new novel by the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.
For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined. Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers, the meaning of devotion, and the line between love and hate. It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.
Sebold's disappointing second novel (after much-lauded The Lovely Bones) opens with the narrator's statement that she has killed her mother. Helen Knightly, herself the mother of two daughters and an art class model old enough to be the mother of the students who sketch her nude figure, is the dutiful but resentful caretaker for her senile 88-year-old mother, Clair. One day, traumatized by the stink of Clair's voided bowels and determined to bathe her, Helen succumbs to a life-long dream and smothers Clair, who had sucked the life out of day by day, year by year. After dragging Clair's corpse into the cellar and phoning her ex-husband to confess her crime, Helen has sex with her best friend's 30-year-old blond-god doofus son. Jumping between past and present, Sebold reveals the family's fractured past (insane, agoraphobic mother; tormented father, dead by suicide) and creates a portrait of Clair that resembles Sebold's own mother as portrayed in her memoir, Lucky. While Helen has clearly suffered at her mother's hands, the matricide is woefully contrived, and Helen's handling of the body and her subsequent actions seem almost slapstick. Sebold can write, that's clear, but her sophomore effort is not in line with her talent.
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The Almost Moon
Depressing book. Leaves you empty.
For Survivors of Abuse
This book does not deserve all of the terrible reviews it has here. This suspense filled novel is riveting, dark and full of raw emotion. The story takes place over just one full day but is interspersed with flashbacks of the main character’s childhood. For child abuse survivors this book will resonate deeply. I devoured it in a day or two because I couldn’t put it down.
Not a strong followup
I'm one of the chorus singing a song of disappointment. While Lovely Bones was far from a perfect novel, the compelling story, likable characters, and generally well-crafted writing made up for most of that story's deficiencies.
Not so, with Almost Moon.
I found the main characters difficult to like, and yet I always felt like I was supposed to be rooting for them. The agoraphobic, narcissistic mother was the character I found most compelling, but the way the story is written, this isn't actually a book about her. The main character, for whom I think we are supposed to feel SOMETHING, left me flat and uninterested.
Stylistically, the narrative slips in and out of the past in ways that are often more confusing than artistic and the narrative flow is jumpy and uneven.
The ending of Almost Moon left me cold and unsatisfied.
As a writer, I don't consider this a waste of time. I think it is very instructional, actually...but I wonder how many Lovely Bones fans will read this book and leave with an unhappy experience?