So kiddies, I finally knocked out the last of Alice Sebold’s books, The Almost Moon. First she brought us The Lovely Bones, then Lucky, and now this. I’m kind of sensing a theme here…
The Lovely Bones was about a little girl’s abduction/rape and then subsequent death–told from the perspective of her watching her family from heaven. Lucky was Sebold’s personal memoir about her own rape experience. And now, The Almost Moon was about a woman finally killed her deranged, elderly mother after hating (loving) her for years. Phew… Pretty intense.
I like Sebold for her daring. She’s willing to go where not a lot of authors are. She talks about the rape of a child, her own rape, and the killing of an intimate with a clear and honest voice. I like that a female author is not afraid of touching on such taboo topics. I enjoy being shocked.
That being said, The Almost Moon left me wanting. Big time. I LOVED The Lovely Bones when I read it several years ago because when Sebold is in her full swing there’s no stopping her. She has a way with language that can be quite poetic at times, and she notices the little things about the world that no one else would think to mention. However, in this particular novel, the plot moved rather slowly because all of the good action happened almost immediately. This is great to get the reader hooked, but you have to keep them coming back for more. It took me about a week to read this, which is a long time for me. The main character Helen was not very warm, and even though we lived inside her head within the pages of this book, I never felt as if I really got to know her–or understand her motives.
If you are willing to suffocate your insane mother, your own marbles need to be accounted for. I get it. But at the same time, rather than being interested in Helen’s (extremely freaking) dysfunctional family– I was repulsed by it. And every step she took farther down the rabbit hole of killing her mother (and disposing of the body) I just kept screaming NO NO NO at her in my head. Maybe it’s just because I’m a Criminology major, and I’ve grown up on a steady diet of Cold Case Files and 48 Hours and I’m biased about the whole thing–but damn, this woman was dumb! I know it wasn’t premeditated, but she pretty much incriminated herself in every way possible.
The book itself was hard to read because 95% of it took place alone in Helen’s head, without much dialogue to break things up a bit. There were tons of flashbacks setting up her reason for murder and the whole story jerked back and forth each time she switched gears. I wasn’t terribly impressed.
All in all, my recommendation is that you should reach past The Almost Moon to grab The Lovely Bones, any day of the week.
2 of 5 stars