Other reviews of this book have given it a very poor rating. I think mine will be about the same. With that said, however, I finished it within 2 long nights of reading. There is something about the way Alice Siebold manages to almost disgust the reader, but draw them in at the same time. The title is probably the best part of the book, and I love to think about how this is portrayed in my own life (I won't spoil the one best part for you). The topic of daughters and mothers *could* have been a great one, even killing one's own mother from the despair of seeing them fail in their old age. BUT, having a mother and a father who are insane before senility arrives is a bit of a stretch and tiresome at the same time. AND, Helen, the protagonist, goes about the cover-up in a ludicrous and insane manner as well. Most of all, the acknowledgements at the back of the book were an insult, somehow, to me. Almost as if there is an inside circle, working at pulling our leg - buying and "Alice Siebold" book again just because of her first acclaimed novel, Lovely Bones. Something I won't be so quick to do on the next one.
After reading both Lucky and The Lovely Bones I fell in love with Sebold's ability to make her characters very real and human. The Almost Moon contains the same human elements but they are tangled in a web of madness. This is a novel about a woman growing up with parents who both suffer from mental illness and the effects that it has on her. The story jumps all around from present to past tense with little rhyme or reason and much of the impact of the story is lost in the time warp. Many things are never really resolved. I think that the majority of readers are going to be dissapointed with this novel when comparing it to her earlier works.
The beginning confession grabbed me, but it was a slow read after that. I felt myself becoming as murky as the characters the more I read and was grateful for the end, though its not the clear or tidy conclusion I was hoping for. There are interesting parts to the book and I admit I kept going back to find out what happened, but it was more like slowing down to watch an accident or a fight in progress.....it's not necessarily that you want to look, yet at the same time you can't look away. Final analysis: The book is confusing, it jumps around often between memories and the present and it felt pretty damn depressing too. Not recommended.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it to be a much better story, and a great deal more engrossing, than "The Lovely Bones". Also, my take on the parents is different than that of others who have written reviews here.
There is no doubt that the mother suffers from a mental illness. However, I do not believe the father also has a mental illness. My thought is that those who think this is the case have misunderstood the actual implications.
The actions of the father (and his inactions), in my opinion, simply illustrate what may inevitably result from living with someone who suffers from a mental illness. The sacrifices and adjustments made in order to placate someone like the mother in this tale would surely have serious effects on those around her. When this is considered, the narrative is, in fact, realistic.
This book was a great read, and I highly recommend it.
I have enjoyed Alice Sebold's other 2 books and I enjoyed this one as well. Without giving too much information, I did finish it wishing to have clearer answers. More information about her father's life..and more of a closure at the end of the book. Let me say-this book will leave you wondering a few things. Thankfully, in this case, it left me pleased to wonder and not annoyed and cheated. Excellent book, but not as good as The Lovely Bones.