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Title: Big Little Lies

Author: Liane Moriarty

Genre: Mystery

Labeled by The New York Times as one of 2014’s most popular books, “Big Little Lies” has certainly caught readers’ attentions in the past two years. Filled with relatable characters and unexpected plot twists, this book has something for everyone.

Author Liane Moriarty begins the book by describing a murder case. Told by a bystander as the action is committed, her details are extremely vague. Once we, as the reader, understand that this murder frames the novel, Moriarty goes back to six months before it happened and explains.

“Big Little Lies” follows the lives of three families that attend Pirriwee Public School in Sydney, Australia. Each family has a son or daughter attending kindergarten in the fall. We first meet Madeline Mackenzie, an experienced mom of three, on her way to kindergarten orientation. She is loud, not afraid to make enemies, and a gossip.

The second person we encounter is Madeline’s friend Celeste Wright. Married to Perry Wright and mom of twin boys Max and Josh, Celeste looks like she has the perfect, put together life. Living in a beautiful house with a rich husband. To everyone, the Wrights are known as the King and Queen of Sydney. However, the reader quickly learns that looks can be deceiving.

Jane Chapman, mother of Ziggy, is the last one the reader meets. New to town, Jane is a young single mom who is shy and timid. Anxious to make her son’s first year of school great, she is willing to do almost anything for him, which includes making friends with all the other parents.

Throughout the book, Moriarty works her way back in month long increments before the night of the murder. At six months we learn about Jane being a single mother and her move to Sydney. At five months, we learn that on kindergarten orientation, Jane’s son Ziggy was blamed for bullying another student.

As the book works its way back closer to when the murder happened, the reader learns more and more about its characters. Three months before the crime, we find out that her husband is abusing Celeste. After years of violence and countless injuries, she is barely holding it together.

One month before the murder, we learn that Ziggy was born after Jane had a one-night stand with a violent man. Although he has never been apart of her son’s life, Jane is worried that Ziggy might have the same violent tendencies now that bullying is in the picture.

“Big Little Lies” ends with a few big surprises. First, we learn who was murdered and how it happened. Throughout the book, the reader has had time to size up the characters and take a guess at who the murderer is. We also meet Ziggy’s father at the end of the book, which is unexpected but ties many loose ends together.

I enjoyed reading this book because it has a murder mystery plot line without being too graphic or cynical. In a way, knowing the ending at the start of the book made the story more fun to read. I also loved how many twists and turns Moriarty used in her book. The ending caught me completely off guard, which doesn’t happen all too often.

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