|The Almost Moon BOOK SYNOPSIS|
Helen kills her mother on the first page of this novel. All her life Helen feels as if she has shouldered the burden of her "crazy" mother. Her childhood memories are of her mother hiding in the closet, leaving the house with a blanket over her head for protection, and standing by and watching a child die because she was too paralyzed by her fear to do anything.
Helen is a nude model for various drawing classes at the local college. She has two daughters of her own and is divorced. She spends her life alternately loving and hating her mother. As her mother declines she withstands more and more verbal abuse until she snaps. But not really in a violent way, in a "I just cant take it anymore" way. It's at this moment that she puts the pillow over her mother's head.
The Almost Moon backtracks to give us Helen's life with her mother, and her father who killed himself years before, and her dysfunctional relationship with her daughters. As she runs from the cops and seduces her best friends son whom she's known since birth, the reader is left wondering - was it Helen or her mother that was truly mentally ill?
|QUEENIE D SAYS|
Acute disappointment is the best way for me to describe my feelings during and after reading this book. I did the thing, again, where I expected way too much since I loved The Lovely Bones with a passion. The Almost Moon fell way short of my expectations. Sebold shocks us in the first line with Helen's admission that she's killed her mother. Then the whole scene with the washing, the wrapping the mother up like a package, carrying her around, and finally suffocating is just tiresome. It's meant to be shocking but it has this dull quality to it so instead of shocked I felt mildly disgusted.
The story goes on. The more that is revealed about Helen and her past, the more I wonder if she was truly the crazy one of the family. I mean, no doubt, both the mom and the dad suffered from severe mental illness but Helen's may be the worst of all. It's almost like she lives her life as the person she thinks she's become because of her mother. But it seems like she's become this person of her own accord.
The storyline wasn't so original. Bad parents, dysfunctional relationships, taboo sex, and a murder. Maybe it's because Helen was so darn unlikable that none of it mattered much to me. The whole book had an air of flatness to it. I was never excited or sad. I didn't care that Helen betrayed her best friend by sleeping with her son. Nor did I care that Clair dropped her great-grandchild down the stairs. Finally, I didn't even care that Helen was just about to kill herself in the end. I think I can attribute this to the fact that all of the characters were very 2-dimensional. They didn't seem real. That makes the reader apathetic about what happens to them.
I think Sebold is a talented writer but I feel like she wanted to be so "out on a limb" and shocking here with a story about a woman killing her mother, that she lost her voice.
I did, however, give The Almost Moon a 4 for discussion. I can see how the murder, mental illness, and family situation could make for a good debate as well as the possible varying opinions about whether or not it was a good book.
|The Almost Moon DISCUSSION QUESTIONS|
- Helen's mom is agoraphobic. Helen's dad is depressed. Does Helen suffer from a mental illness? What is it?
- Is what Helen does to her mother forgivable? Understandable?
- Does Emily stay away because she despises her grandmother or is it really her mother that she doesn't want to be around?
More Queenie D Book ReviewsBurning Bright, The Choice, City of Falling Angels, Comfort Food, Devil in the White City, The Friday Night Knitting Club, The Glass Castle, Gods in Alabama, House of Sand and Fog, The Last Summer (of You & Me), The Lovely Bones, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Thief Taker, Who Killed My Daughter, The Woods.
AUTHOR(S): Alice Sebold
TYPE OF BOOK: Fiction
NUMBER OF PAGES: 291
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2007
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