Home » Book Biz » BOOK BIZ — Plots, intrigue and murder at kindergarten? yes
» Big Little Lies By Liane Moriarty Published by Penquin $16.00 paperback

BOOK BIZ — Plots, intrigue and murder at kindergarten? yes

I don’t know how to categorize this book. Well, yes, it’s fiction, but how do I describe it after that? At times while reading it, I thought it’s a spoof because of the word picture it paints of raising children today and the competitive nature — among some circles — of everything involving children, including kindergarten. The book definitely has some serious themes (how about domestic abuse, bullying and murder?) but at the same time it pokes dark fun at pushy parents and the politics of everything; yes, even kindergarten politics.

I especially like the way the author withholds the main event — or the main drama, I guess you could say — until the end. We know from the beginning that a murder has taken place, but we don’t know who’s the victim. I refused to cheat by looking ahead, but rather let the author’s plan play out as she leads readers along with a series of events leading up to the tragedy.

The beginning of each chapter has dialogue between two or three characters that takes place after the tragedy but without revealing too much. This dialogue is written in the format of a play (character’s name: what they said). Then the chapter launches into the narrative of what was happening  prior to the night of the murder. That may sound confusing, but it’s not. Readers know where the writer is taking them and it’s interesting to let the plot unfold.

The three main characters are three mothers of children who’re beginning kindergarten in a suburb of Sydney. Australia. They are quite different. Madeline is a glamour girl who pulls no punches and is fiercely loyal to her family and friends. Celeste is a beautiful woman who seems to have everything but is often distracted by the troublesome secret she keeps. Jane is a single mom who has plenty of secrets of her own and must fight for acceptance. Then there are the stereotypes — the corporate mom who is constantly dashing off to board meetings; the stay-at-home moms who’re in charge of everything at the school; and a plethora of others. There’s also a stay-at-home dad who mixes it up with the moms. It gets rough; it gets catty. There are ugly rumors circulating and a nasty petition.

And remember, it all revolves around kindergarten. It’s the kind of story you want to read and say, “Whew, I don’t see myself in this mix.”

— Lynn Lofton, mbj@msbusiness.com

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About Lynn Lofton

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