Liane Moriarty has made a name for herself through novels that primarily dwell on drama amongst suburban moms. In her latest effort, Big Little Lies, Moriarty amps up the discord by throwing domestic violence and murder into the mix. Kindergarten mothers can be a volatile bunch, and one that is particularly difficult for newcomers to breach. For new resident Jane and her son Ziggy, acceptance into this elite clique is immediately denied when Ziggy is accused of choking a fellow student at new student orientation day. Although Jane doubts that her son is actually guilty of the crime, they are instantly ostracized by the innermost circle of yuptastic, blonde-bobbed mothers. Desperate to convince others (and herself) of Ziggy’s innocence, Jane dives into school events to win over the blonde bobs. During the process, she learns that everyone’s lives are not as perfect as they seem, and those that seem the most perfect actually have the most to hide.
Moriarty has a knack for analyzing social hierarchies in groups of middle-class women in a way that highlights the fact that most women interact with each other they same way they did in high school (and even middle school). She seems to be suggesting that differences can and will be put aside in times of crisis, but this notion is not really based in reality. Thus, the somewhat happy ending does not correspond with the rather somber tone that dominates the rest of the novel, and this continues to be the primary issues with Moriarty’s books. She tackles some dark subject matter, but the resolutions just never correspond with the overall atmosphere. More enjoyable than The Husband’s Secret but lacking the charm of The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Big Little Lies is a mildly enjoyable piece of pulp and a thoughtless summer read.