Review: Truly Madly Guilty (It had me hooked, but was missing something)

By Liane Moriarty

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.55

Genre: New Fiction w/ mystery element

Publication Date: July 26th 2016

Format Read: Phone Ebook

Challenges met: Read Harder Challenge

Goodreads Summary: Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.  Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.  Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?  In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

Overview…

I went into this book not knowing a lot, and so I didn’t really know what to expect.  I’d already read a Moriarty book in the past, so I figured it would be something similar, and I was very happy with what I got out of this book.  It isn’t one that I think everyone needs to read, but while I was reading it, I was hooked.  Moriarty has a gift of slowly revealing information in a way that leaves you constantly wanting more, but not becoming bored.  Although it is “slow to unfold” as some reviewers have put it, I believe that the way she did give out information was in just the right quantity.  You never felt like she was intentionally trying to elongate it, nor did she use any of the “cliches” of a novel like this which would make it lose its value.  I don’t know how else to put that without spoilers, but I thought she made everything very realistic to the situation.

The Characters…

There were a ton of characters in this novel, namely three couples, 3 children, a grumpy old neighbor, a crazy hoarder mom, and one of the couple’s parents.  Keep in mind while I write this that this book was written for adults with adult MCs, so “mom” is about 60 while the MC couples are in their late 20s-30s (I’m guessing, they might be older).  The POV alternated between all 6 individuals which make up the couples, but rather than adding to confusion, this clarified a lot and allowed for wayyyy better personality development of everyone in the novel.  And, as the point of this book was to evaluate the impacts of one “mysterious event” it made sense to see the emotions of everyone who was involved.  

I think Moriarty did a great job of characterizing everyone in her novel, even though she had A TON of work to do in order to accomplish this.  Everyone has distinctive personalities, and although you may not like some of them, you have to admit that they are honest and real and the people act in accordance with their personalities.  What I love is that there’s no miraculous “change overnight” scenes.  That doesn’t fit with the way Moriarty works.  I was especially impressed with the way each person had an individualized personality– there were no generic characters here.  One thing that I would complain about is that a couple of them were stereotypes– the big, over friendly Italian, and the girl with parent problems who developed OCD.  That being said, at least they were all different, and their relationships were well done.

The Plot…

I loved the way Moriarty did this.  The reason her story worked is that she incorporated so many small details, with slow revealing, so that the reader was on the edge of their seat the entire time.  

The POV shifted among all of the characters present at the barbeque, which added to the effect of slow reveals, because you slowly learned how everyone felt about the moment, and eventually it began coming together.  It also made me think about how one event can severely impact EVERYONE’S lives, even if it seems like it shouldn’t really matter.

Diversity and Triggers…

As far as diversity goes, there’s not really that much to say, except for the fact that it’s nonexistent.

Triggers, let’s see, there’s a lot.  We’ll go no spoiler first: strippers/sex club, drinking, OCD, hoarding, therapy, marriage problems, lots of people with “issues”.   

And now, for a major spoiler, just cursor over the next sentence, because I’m writing it in white.  If you read this, it will ruin most of the book’s mystery element, which is what makes it so good so I wouldn’t recommend it.  A young child nearly dies with her parents watching, and it is described fairly vividly multiple times with CPR recover, and is the central focus of the whole plot.

Summary…

Overall, I adored this book, and found it really good, but it was missing something that made it PERFECT.  There’s nothing much that I can genuinely put my finger on, and it might just be because I’m too young to relate directly to the characters and situation, but they just didn’t seem real enough for me to give it 5 stars.  That being said, I would 100% recommend, especially if you liked What Alice Forgot, which is another book by Liane.

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