“Big Little Lies” is about the lies we tell ourselves about our own lives and the lies we tell each other. The characters learn the hard lesson that not everything is as it seems and appearances can be deceiving. What goes on facebook isn’t the reality of what goes on behind closed doors.
If you haven’t already watched the show (you should, it’s decent, well acted, soapy television) the story revolves around the mothers of kindergarten children who are all in the same class. One false accusation of bullying made out of fear sent these women into a frenzy of assumptions and cruelty toward a five year old boy, Ziggy, who was nothing more than innocent.
Ziggy’s mother, Jane, was new to town and a single mother who was became pregnant after a nasty sexual encounter when she was 19. She instantly befriends Madeline, a spark plug of energy and, on occasion, spite. This spite is most apparent toward her ex-husband and his second wife, zen-like yoga instructor Bonnie. They too have a child in this kindergarten class. Celeste is a vibrant beauty with twins and hides a secret life of violence with her husband. But it’s Renata, whose daughter falsely accuses Ziggy of bullying, that sets this whole drama into motion by accusing Ziggy publicly in front of all the students and their mothers.
Over the course of the book we find out that Jane was raped, Celeste’s husband abuses her and she eventually plans to leave him, and Madeline’s eldest daughter from her first marriage wants to sell her virginity for charity. Renata and Bonnie don’t have much prevalence except from what we hear from the gossip from Madeline and Celeste.
These women and their husbands all end up together at the schools trivia night. It is here that Jane meets Celeste’s husband and recognizes him as the man who raped her when she was a teenager. This revelation brings out the best in some and the worst in others.
I won’t give away the ending just in case you didn’t watch the show (again, you should). It’s a story populated by strong women, the husbands that love and sometimes hate them, and what we would do for our loved ones. Friendships are tested but ultimately remain true. Renata even takes the high road and apologizes to Jane for falsely accusing her son. Many of the assumptions and prejudices these women hold against each other crumble when the unthinkable happens.
This book is well paced and amusing. I would have liked to seem more from the perspectives of Renata and Bonnie, but the show does give them more in depth characters (watch it, you’ll love it). A good summer read if you’re stuck inside on a rainy day.