“Everyone had another sort of life up their sleeve that might have made them happy.”

My draw to Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty was a fleeting thing I read on the Internet about a truly shocking twist. Sure, spoiling there is a twist might dampen its effect, but sometimes it still works. Anyways, all I saw was something about Truly Madly Guilty and a twist. I was looking for something new to read and so I picked this one up.

Unfortunately, I was not too impressed by the book. The pacing was slow and all I knew throughout the book was that something happened at a barbeque. There is a lot of drama in the book, but everything seems tied to the barbeque. The problem is not the wait for the reveal of what occurred, but how the author structured things beforehand. I think the buildup was not executed as well as I would like, which lessened my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

So, a little more context beyond the barbeque. Sam and Clementine seem like they have it all: a dream job, a dream audition, and two wonderful daughters. Erika is Clementine’s best friend, though their relationship is a complicated one. Erika mentions a last-minute barbeque with her neighbours—Tiffany and Vid—and Sam and Clementine agree to go. But a couple months later, they wonder…what if they did not go?

You basically have three time periods within this novel. They are from before the barbeque, during the barbeque, and after the barbeque. Sometimes I found the switches slight disconcerting and I had to constantly remind myself about where I was in the story. What did the characters know at this point? What was going to happen that I knew about, but they did not? How would this affect everything?

While I do not mind switches back and forth in time or perspective, the novel has to work a lot harder to draw me in, keep me engaged, and enhance my enjoyment of the book. This is, I think, why I tend to be more critical of the ones that go down this route and tend to dislike more of them. I think the best ones, perhaps, were the books in A Song of Ice and Fire. Sure, those books were very dense and I did think one character was actually two for a little while in the first novel, but in the end I loved those books and am anxious for the next one. I mean, I have kept watching the television show, but I know they can change things (and already have) so I want to take the books as my “ultimate” canon. If they match, that’s all the better. If they don’t, then my point stands.

In any case, I am feeling so-so about this book. There were a couple effective punches at the end, but the rest of the book does not make up for it. The rest of the book kind of lessens the effectiveness of those punches. If you do give this book a shot—everyone does have a different opinion—I would love to know if you come out with the same opinion as me, or if you can explain why your opinion differs. Why did you really like the book? Can you make me see it differently? Leave a comment below!


Title: Truly Madly Guilty

Author: Liane Moriarty

Publisher: Flatiron Books


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