What happened here?

what alice forgot


What’s it about?

Alice is 29, happily married, and pregnant with her first child. She’s happy about this. Which would be wonderful, except for the fact that it’s in her head – she’s really a 39-year-old mother of three and about to be divorced. She’s hit her head. Now she needs to figure out just what happened in the last ten years.

Why should you read it? 

I personally will always pick up any book by Liane Moriarty because she does the PTA-mom thing so well. She gets all those power dynamics, and because that’s the world I live in, I enjoy the satirization of it. In What Alice Forgot, she also covers exercise, long-term relationships, power dynamics, and, in this case, how a friendship ruined a marriage.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about books about relationships. This is partially because of my recent foray into reading romance books. But anything that’s about relationships, particularly when there’s at least one woman involved, tends to get classified as “women’s literature” whether thats romance or chick lit. And then it can be dismissed, or treated as lesser somehow.

Any maybe this is just me being ashamed of something I shouldn’t be – maybe this is a latent, internalized misogyny on my part. (God knows I’ve found enough of that as I’ve been raising my daughter – it’s amazing where it lurks.) But I suspect it’s more than just me – that books written by women, about relationships really are marginalized. (This story on Jezebel about what happened when a female author sent out her novel under a man’s name is enlightening.) And I wish that didn’t happen.

So I will continue to read and review books by women about women and relationships. And hope it helps de-marginalize it at least a tiny little bit.

Not a murder mystery

The Husband's Secret

What’s it about?
The Husband’s Secret is about a crime that was committed twenty years ago. A teenaged girl was murdered, the killer was never found. This story is told in the present day, from three different points of view: her mother’s, Caecila Fitzpatrick (a super-organized mom whose husband has the titular secret), and Tess O’Leary (whose husband and best friend have just decided to have an affair). It’s a rich story, not only about the murder, but that’s the impetus driving all the action forward.

Why should you read it? 
I love Liane Moriarty’s books. She takes suburban parenthood and uses its typical situations to explore questions of humanity. Issues like fidelity and loyalty and grief all come to the forefront of this book. It’s definitely a page-turner (I think I read it in a matter of hours), and good for a vacation as well as for raising larger issues – if you choose to think about them.

More mystery than murder

big little lies

What’s it about?
Big Little Lies is a murder mystery in that someone dies and the story is ultimately about putting the world back together. But it’s not structured like a typical mystery: the death isn’t until almost the end, and the world keeps getting messier and messier until suddenly it’s not messy at all. It’s about a group of parents who all know each other because their children all go to kindergarten together, and how they all relate. It’s not a heavy book, but I was expecting something even lighter going in. (I blame the cover.)

Why should you read it?
It’s a good story, that’s why. It’s well told, it’s gripping (I stayed up late to finish it), and it made fun of school politics from the parents’ point of view. School politics always deserve to be made fun of. I like this trend of writing more books aimed at working parents that treat the parents as people who both love their children and want to have lives of their own. I’m avoiding writing about the murder mystery part of the book because I don’t want to spoil it, because I suspect many people will read it. It’s very well done.