by Liane Moriarty
First off, let me tell you that I was initially attracted to this book just because of the pearlescent quality of the cover. Gorgeous. (Admission. Yes, I do judge books by their cover. Honestly, who doesn't? Superficial? Maybe. But I find it's an important aesthetic piece of the reading experience.) And once I started the first couple of pages, I was instantly drawn in by the language and masterful storytelling of Moriarty. She weaves a story that follows the paths of three women... and in various points of time.
Cecilia Fitzpatrick opens the story: the stereotypical "soccer mom" who sells Tupperware and makes a fortune at it, finds a letter written by her husband.... to be opened ONLY UPON HIS DEATH!!!! Although she tries to resist (I admire the woman who actually could), the contents of that letter change her life. As someone who sees things in only black and white, she is suddenly forced into a world of gray and must shift her classic understanding of good and evil, right and wrong. The parallel story focuses on Tess, who is returning to her old hometown after a stunning betrayal in her marriage. She returns home with her young son to work through the situation, analyze her dependency in social situations, and decide what is worth fighting for. The third plot line centers on Rachel, an older woman working at the local school... whose teenage daughter was brutally murdered years ago. Struggling in her relationships with her only remaining child & his wife, she cannot forget the daughter who was so beloved. She is constantly plagued by thoughts of what her daughter's life would be like if she had lived, and has never stopped the search for the person responsible for that loss. We also have the opportunity to see events through her daughter's eyes on the day of her death.
Although all of these stories seem disconnected at the beginning, it soon becomes clear that there is more overlap between them than any of the characters could ever realize. Their stories are wound together masterfully, coming to a conclusion that I could not have predicted. Moriarty writes her characters with great depth, and you can see the character developing and changing as events unfold. The work forces readers to ask themselves challenging questions: How well do you, or should you, know the people you love? Do mistakes from someone's past influence how you see them now? When do you let go of the things that have torn your life apart? At the heart of this work though, is the tenant that some secrets are better left untold. The author concludes with these words: "None of us ever know all the possible courses our lives could have and maybe should have taken. It's probably just as well. Some secrets are meant to stay secret forever. Just ask Pandora" (p. 394).