June 7, 2016

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

Title:  The Almost Moon
Author:  Alice Sebold
Pages:  304
Genre:  Fiction
Publisher:  Back Bay, 2007
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis: 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.

Review:  This book is dark.  It's darker than dark.  It opens with the main character, Helen, confessing that she's killed her mother.  It goes on to describe her life, both past and present, and it's not a pretty picture.  There are almost no characters in this story who are not broken.  And none of the characters are especially likable.  In fact, some of them I ended up disliking immensely.  The only really likable characters you meet are Mr. Forrest, a neighbor, and Helen's daughter, Sarah, who has been obviously hurt by the life she's led.

This is a look into mental illness and the long-term effects it has on the family.  It is stark and awful and completely believable.  It raises the question of genes versus environment and brought me to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter how mental illness is caused.  That it is passed on is all that really matters.

I cannot say I loved this book as much as I did The Lovely Bones.  I can say that it was incredibly intense and I'm very glad I read it.  There is hope, in the end, I thought.  Hope that maybe the next generation will be better than the one previous.

Rating:  8 / 10

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