REVIEW: The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold *SPOILER ALERT*

Title: The Almost Moon
Author: Alice Sebold
Year of Publication: 2007
Genre: Fiction
Format: Audio Book
Length: 8 hours and 51 minutes
First Line: “When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.”

Summary: A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable new novel by the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.

For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined. Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers, the meaning of devotion, and the line between love and hate. It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.

Review: After thinking it over, I do not think I can write a review on this novel without tons and tons of spoilers. So… warning everyone right now… SPOILERS AHEAD & THEY DON’T END.

In Sebold’s third book she is brave enough to write in the perspective of a killer. Not just a killer, but the main character is a very disturbed woman who comes from a dysfunctional family and murders her own mother. I feel that we should give credit where credit is due for this novel. Sebold did a complete 180 from her previous book, The Lovely Bones, this time making the killer the protagonist. Many of course do not like this book because of the subject matter. I’ve read other books with a similar premise that also received harsh reviews. If you are squeamish about reading a book where the murderer is the main character, then don’t read it. Don’t say it’s a horrible novel because Sebold made an incredibly brave choice. Please read this novel for what is it, not for the subject matter. Look beyond the fact that Helen kills her mother and then does not feel remorse. Look at how Sebold wrote the book, the technique, the characters… and then judge it.

After saying all that, I didn’t really like The Almost Moon. (Half of you are laughing hysterically aren’t you?) Not because of the subject! My speech wasn’t for nothing. I feel that Sebold just… didn’t write this well. It really could have been done better. The majority of the novel consists of flashbacks. Helen goes through daily life remembering things from the past. She hits her head on the top of the car door, it makes her remember the time her mother dropped her (Helen’s) grandson on the floor. There are flashbacks within flashbacks. Helen looks at her father’s old guns, which causes her to remember a time when her best friend’s son was given one as a gift, which makes her remember that her father killed himself with a gun.

I understand Sebold’s timeline, starting off with Helen murdering her mother and then the events afterwards. But, since it is so filled with flashbacks I almost feel like it would have been a better, epic novel if Sebold had written it like: Helen’s life before, Helen kills her mom, and afterwards. To me it would have made more sense, made the murder more of a crescendo, and we’d understand why she murdered her mother in the first place (without finding out why through flashbacks).

Sebold writes of a dysfunctional family (kind of makes the real life family of Augusten Burroughs seem like WASPS). I felt like the relationships between the characters were realistic however. Their reactions of the murder fits in the way of their dysfunction.

So in the end I recommend this book to… others who like true crime. I know this isn’t true crime at all, but I feel that lovers of true crime will appreciate The Almost Moon more than most.

Worst part: Honestly, that almost the entire book consists of flashbacks.

Best part: That Sebold was brave enough to write this.

Grade: D

Recommend For: People who want something a little different and will read with an open mind

Other Books by This Author: Lucky and The Lovely Bones

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