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A big winner: 'Little Big Lies'

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Little Big Lies, a novel by Liane Moriarty

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With “The Husband’s Secret,” Moriarty zoomed to the top of the bestseller lists. Her latest novel, “Little Big Lies,” is certain to do the same.

A suspenseful plot, deftly draw characters, and a willingness to tackle the big issues if schoolyard and adult bullying and domestic abuse set “Little Big Lies” apart from standard chick lit fare.

The hook here is that someone has been murdered at a Trivia Night for parents at Pirriwee primary school. Moriarty will keep you guessing about the identity of the victim right up until the end – there are plenty of people who would deserve a violent end.

Any mother – or father for that matter – knows that when it’s time for your children to go to school, it is both a blessing and a curse. Moriarty makes no bones about it: you get to relive all the angst and insecurities of school through your children. Or, as one character thinks to herself:

The last time she had had anything close to an enemy, she was in primary school herself. It had never crossed her mind that sending your child to school would be like going back to school yourself.

Pirriwee Public is a beachfront primary school in Australia. It seems idyllic. Yet, it’s run by the “Blonde Bobs,” a clique of aggressive blonde helicopter moms. New to the neighborhood, Jane and her son Ziggy are eager to fit in. But on the day of kindergarten orientation, Ziggy is accused of bullying by the gifted daughter of one of the school’s ruling mothers.

Jane copes with the ongoing campaign against her child, bolstered by the friendship of feisty Madeline Martha Mackenzie and beautiful, yet remote, Celeste, who have children in Ziggy’s class. Each of the women has a secret. Single mom Jane keeps the identity of her son’s father to herself. Madeline, despite her cheerful nature is struggling to keep her teen-aged daughter from running off to live with her first husband, who had walked out on her years ago. Celeste seems to have it all: beauty, brains, money and twin sons. It is the little big lies they tell themselves and each other that give this novel more heft than the usual domestic drama.

Moriarty knows her territory. As always, Moriarty’s descriptions of family and married life are pitch perfect. Parenting isn’t easy. Small children present their own set of challenges: teenagers even more so. Here’s a book that mines the drama of ordinary domestic life for a page-turner you won’t be able to put down.

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