The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

2.5 of 5

Helen Knightley has lived with a mother who was absent in mind and cruel in personality all of her life. Knowing her mother’s life is coming to an end and this will be the final call Helen does not have the strength. She smothers her mother. In the next twenty-four hours Helen remembers her life with this mother and reevaluates her relationship with those around her.

Plot: Most of the novel is told in flashbacks of Helen’s relationship with her mother and father while her relationship with her ex-husband and her children is wildly glossed over. Helen spends the entire novel blaming her mother for her mother’s mental illness, for being an awful mother, and for Helen’s absolute adoration of her. A bigger issue in this story would be Helen’s father, but Helen only remembers him as perfect even when her memories are disturbing.

Characters: Helen wants you to feel sorry for her. People have gone through worse lives and come out stronger. She was entirely an enabler. Her ex-husband, Jake, seemed to have a connection to her that did not carry over through the story. He dropped everything to be at her side but once together the two fell flat. The two have two daughters, Emily and Sarah. Emily is never actually seen in present form in the book, only described in great detail, while Sarah is seen and almost described in less detail. Emily was perfect, Sarah was not, and that seemed to be the main intent to garner from this story. Clair, Helen’s mother, was cruel in her old age and dementia, but the woman should have been treated years ago, and certainly after Helen’s father died. Everything Helen did made her seem like less and less of a victim.

Easy prose make this novel a quick read. It is easily an in-between book for me. While I enjoyed it I would love to have had more answers to other questions or a deeper look at the years of Helen’s life. She spent too much time trying to convince the reader why her mother was awful and less time trying to explain why so many people loved her unconditionally.

Four reasons to read this novel?

4. Despite the dark content, it is an easy read

3. If you liked Sebold’s earlier novel, The Lovely Bones, you will appreciate it more

2. The story does do what it intends even while falling flat

1. Even if Helen is a whiner, the story itself is meant to make you wonder why and does just that

Four reasons not to read this novel?

4. No real character development

3. Too much glossing on memories that should have been explored

2. Obvious ending

1. Helen never has a happy moment, even in memory, even when thinking of the daughters she loves


Posted on February 12, 2012, in Book Reviews, February 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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