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.
Having an insatiable appetite for reading memoirs, I came across Alice Sebold’s Lucky while perusing the memoir section at Afterwords Books in Edwardsville, IL. Unfamiliar with the title, but familiar with the author from her work, The Lovely Bones (the book was far better in my opinion), I added Lucky to the pile next to the cash register.
Once I opened the pages, I was hooked by the sheer terror experienced by Sebold as a freshman at college and the horrific acts one human being feels entitled to perform upon another. With no holds barred, Sebold relives her rape in writing while explaining the reasoning behind the title of her memoir. Although the police deemed her “lucky” since she was not murdered and then dismembered, no one in his/her right mind should ever consider a violation of any kind “lucky.”
Detailing the aftermaths of her rape, Sebold details the exhausting legal system, people’s inappropriate assumptions and judgements, and her eventual isolation due to this traumatic, unwarranted occurrence in her life.
For the purposes of book club, coffee is a reoccurring food item mentioned throughout the memoir, whether it was watered-down or warm enough to offer some level of comfort in a beyond uncomfortable situation. Thus, coffee and nothing else would be my only accompaniment to this book discussion.