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November 3rd, 2007 - Deirdre on reading, writing and living

Nov. 3rd, 2007 06:40 pm Book #43: The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold

After you kill your mother, then what?

Alice Sebold's latest novel explores that very question. Helen Knightly, while over to help her frail and failing (but fierce) elderly mother, smothers her with a towel. Then, in a sort of sonambulate trance, she floats through the next twenty four hours vacillating between confession, escape, and annihilation. She comes by these choices honestly, a family history of "mental illness" pirouettes throughout the back story.

Unlike Sebold's previous novel, Lovely Bones, emotional connections between reader and protagonist are tenuous. Helen is bereft of a working moral compass. Sure caring for your sick, surly, agoraphobic mother is a bummer, but kill her, shove her in a freezer, and then have sex with your best friend's son?

The writing is compelling, the story unique, and there is something disturbing about the tone that, while I could identify with Helen's mixed feelings about her maternal relations, left me feeling very alone.

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