Having read Alice Sebold’s Lucky and The Lovely Bones, I was determined to read Sebold’s third book and second novel, The Almost Moon, and was admittedly looking forward to what I consider her infamous ability to hook the reader. Again, for me, Sebold did not disappoint as the first line begins, “When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily” (3).
Through flashbacks, Helen, the protagonist, details her turbulent relationship with her mentally ill mother which ultimately ends in her mother’s death. This first-person perspective is not only macabre in nature, but also interestingly matter-of-fact. The honesty with which Sebold represents Helen not only brings her to life, but also creates a sympathetic reader, “I had not been raised to hug or to comfort or to become part of someone else’s family. I had been raised to keep a distance” (79). In addition, Sebold’s elevated vocabulary choices- bilious, homunculus- challenges the reader (okay, challenges me) making interaction with her words a well-rounded learning experience.
For the purposes of book club, grainy butterscotch fudge, brandy balls, and pecan meringues are a must in order to recall Helen’s telling of baking with her mother and to instigate conversation regarding this mother/daughter relationship.