Small Town, Big Drama - Big Little Lies Review
Updated: Mar 15, 2019
by Liane Moriarty
Published in 2014
I am someone who always judges a book by its’ cover (I know I’m not supposed to... I can’t help it!) and the cover of Big Little Lies just draws you in with a big broken candy on the cover. This makes me wonder, what kind of explosive lies am I going to discover in this book? I had been interested in reading a book from Liane Moriarty because I had heard such great things, and I was not disappointed when reading Big Little Lies.
Big Little Lies begin with the police surrounding a school in a suburban town due to a murder during their Trivia Night event. It isn’t revealed who was the victim… nor who was the murderer. We then flash back in time to Jane, a young single-mother, who has come to the town to start her life over with her son. On her way to school, she meets Madeleine who’s also dropping her daughter off to the same school. After dropping their kids off, they have coffee with the third addition to the friendship, Celeste. On the outside, they all look like suburban mothers who live a simple and happy life, but under the surface, there is more to their tales. Jane has lived in fear ever since she was raped years before. Madeleine is angry at her ex-husband’s happy new life with his wife Bonnie, even though he was almost non-existent for most of her daughter’s childhood, who is now a rebellious teenager. Celeste is beautiful and wealthy wit twin sons, but is constantly abused by her husband, Perry, behind closed doors.
The first day of Kindergarten for the children seems easy enough, until Jane’s son Ziggy is accused of abusing Amabella. As months pass, the three women continue to get closer, with Jane revealing to them that she was raped by a man named Saxon Banks. Celeste and Madeleine look up who that is behind her back to reveal that it is Perry’s cousin, but decide not to share that information with Jane. Perry begins abusing Celeste more frequently and she begins visiting a therapist as she continues to fear for her life. She leases her own apartment in the hopes that she will soon gather the courage to leave Perry. Meanwhile, Madeleine continues butting heads with her ex-husband as her daughter chooses him over her and she feels like she’s losing her daughter. Ziggy continues getting accused of bullying Amabella, with most parents now demanding that he be expelled for such behavior. Jane questions Ziggy only to find that he has taken the blame for bullying Amabella when she really was being tormented by one of Celeste’s son.
We now arrive on Trivia Night when Jane reveals to Celeste that it was her son bullying Amabella, which she realizes is because he’s mimicking Perry. She decides that is enough to finally leave Perry, only for him to discover the apartment she intended to move into. With that tension still present, they decide to attend Trivia Night together. Jane meets Perry, only to realize that he is Saxon Banks. After a huge confrontation, Perry is unapologetic and hits Celeste in front of the group. This enrages Bonnie who pushes Perry over a railing to his death. It is later revealed her father was abusive which is why she pushed Perry. Everyone was going to lie to protect Bonnie but she decides to tell the truth and is sentenced to 200 hours of community service. Celeste and Jane are no longer as close, but Celeste opens a trust for Ziggy now that she knows he’s her sons’ brother.
Final Rating & Thoughts: 9/10
Liane Moriarty sure knows how to bring the drama - and I can’t get ENOUGH! This was my first time reading Liane Moriarty and I am so glad I did, even if it spiraled into me hunting her books down ever since! Big Little Lies completely delivers what was promised because we get plenty of lies in this novel. I think I had the craziest “Oh no he didn’t” moment when we got the reveal that Perry was Saxon Banks all along! What a small world and honestly, I don’t condone murder, but if anyone deserved to be pushed off a railing, it was Perry. It was painful to read the never-ending abuse to Celeste, especially when Celeste was such a kind soul. I also thought the reveal of Celeste’s son being the bully because he saw his father doing the same was such a powerful moment in the book. It’s true that children are likely to mirror their parent’s actions, and I think it was such an eye opener to Perry and Celeste that just because they thought this was being hidden behind closed doors, all things come into the light eventually.
I also loved the drama between Madeleine and her ex-husband. Divorce is such a difficult process but it happens and kids are often torn in the middle of the mess, and I feel like Liane Moriarty was honest and realistic with the feelings between Madeleine and her ex-husband. All of a sudden, he has his “perfect wife” and “perfect new child” and he’s like the ultimate super dad who wants to be present in his daughters’ lives so much so that their teenager prefers to be around him more than Madeleine… even though he had completely vanished for 5 years of her life when Madeleine had to fill in his place as both mother and father. I can completely understand her resentment. It is hard enough raising a teenager, but a teenager who prefers the man who screwed you over? That’s just heartbreaking.
Overall, this was such a fantastic book and I highly recommend it. Liane Moriarty does a great job writing each individual character so that the three women are independent, strong women who may be best friends but have very distinct and unique personalities. I found myself rooting for each and every woman and even the ones who should have been “villain” characters like Amabella’s mother and Bonnie, you still can’t help but root for them too because she details some of their background that makes the reader sympathize with them and make us realize that their actions are somewhat justified. I also loved the scenes when the police were questioning witnesses around the school because it shows that even in a small, quiet community, drama is everywhere!