This is Alice Sebold’s third book, the first being “Lucky” and the second was “The Lovely Bones”. The opening line of the book is quite the catcher – “When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily“. The story is told by Helen Knightly, a woman who has given her life for others, especially her mother. In the opening chapters, Helen kills her mother yet still is trapped by this woman who stole so much from her – self esteem, father, confidence, social life, love life, daughter.
So many of the reviews say how Alice Sebold challenges the readers and writes a gripping story. I found that yes, the story was gripping, but it was so inconclusive. In the end, the post-murder questions were not answered – we had to use our imaginations to what happened – the plot was left hanging. It was much more of a character journey, Helen did feel more resolved and free by the end, but we never got to see this transformation in action. Did she get away with it? Did they figure it out? Did she get sentenced? What did she tell her daughters? Would they forgive her? The book explored more of her life and their painful mother-daughter dynamic, snaking through the memories with flashbacks while we operated in the 24 hours post-murder.
Often I felt like this book was just trying too hard to be shocking and cross boundaries. There was sex and murder, cold comments and heartless actions… yet something about it felt like it was trying too hard! I don’t know how to describe it, it may have been the opening sentence actually. Because this sentence just jumped out and yelled, “I’m trying to be intriguing!!” The book was never subtle; Helen was brutally honest in all her narrative. I think that Sebold definitely had a lot to live up to with the major success of The Lovely Bones.
Recommendation? Yes, it’s a good read if you get the chance, but I wouldn’t gasp and say, “You’ve never read The Almost Moon!?!” and force it upon you if we were in the book store together. [Note: Shown here is the UK cover]