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Stranger Than Fiction

The Almost Moon: A Novel - Alice Sebold Warning: May be a few spoilers for 'The Almost Moon' and 'The Lovely Bones'. I'll keep this short with minimal comparisons towards Alice Sebold's books because I'm sure most of us are sick of those comparisons anyways.

There's only really two things I want to bring up, since I can't say I loved nor hated this book, I feel like there's nothing to sing home about in either regard.

If there's anything that can be said for Sebold's writing is that, for me, it feels like a fresh slap to the face. Let me explain; Sebold writes about rape, murder, suicide and doesn't try to sugar coat it. It's often hard to digest and is usually delivered in hard stinging blows. She's often unapologetic for it. She describes the body of Helen's mother with such crude detail, like rubbery thighs and nipples that nearly touch the ground to a passage about her mothers genitalia and it's that detail that stays with you after the story is through. Her characters don't get the happy ending you thought they would have. In "The Lovely Bones" the killer doesn't get caught, doesn't go to jail. Instead, is offed by an icicle. Despite the ending being ambiguous in "The Almost Moon", there's telltale signs that Helen may have second thoughts about running away from her problems. Sebold could have easily had Mr. Harvey turn himself in, had Susie live forever happy in her heaven and pulled the Salmon family back together in utter bliss. She could have had the police buy Helen's story right on the spot and let the grieving daughter get off scot free. My point is Alice Sebold isn't afraid to have her characters suffer and that's something I both love and hate about her writing. Yes, we'd all love to see the characters win in the end, but it isn't always going to end beautifully.

Something I didn't particularly like was Helen's treatment of BOTH her parents. Her cruelty towards her mother was more evident as she spent far more time with her mentally ill mother then she did with her just as mentally ill father. It's revealed that her father would disappear for days, weeks, sometimes even months at a time. The times he'd disappear for a few days, he was often on business trips, but would hit up the house he grew up in catering to a family he made out of wooden planks. It's brushed upon him spending 90 days in a mental hospital. He reveals this to Helen after bringing her to his house with the ornamental family. Instead of calling her father out on his bullshit, having a small argument within his house, the two leave with a promise to discuss his hospital visit. Helen later says she never had the heart to ask him. She blames him for leaving with her mother and later blames her mother for his suicide. She never fails to find a way to blame most things on her mother including the divorce with her husband, Jake, to a somewhat strained relationship with her own daughters particularly her eldest Emily. I wouldn't chalk this up to writing style as much as it is a massive character fail. I wasn't to fond of how shallow Helen was most of the time.

I can't say I hated this book, I liked it less then 'The Lovely Bones' that's for sure. I also can't say I loved it. Certain things will surely stick out in my mind and I might even rec it to a few people who liked Sebold's older work.