The Almost Moon

The Almost Moon

2.7 234
by Alice Sebold
     
 

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"When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily."

So begins The Almost Moon, Alice Sebold's astonishing, brilliant, and daring new novel. A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this unforgettable work by the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.

For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her

Overview

"When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily."

So begins The Almost Moon, Alice Sebold's astonishing, brilliant, and daring new novel. A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this unforgettable work by the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.

For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined.

Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers; the meaning of devotion; and the line between love and hate. It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.

About the Author
Alice Sebold is the bestselling author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky: A Memoir. She lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Joan Allen fails to breathe sufficient life into Alice Sebold's second novel to make it worth the listen, but she really doesn't have much to work with. Helen Knightly, a divorced mother of two grown daughters, impulsively murders her 88-year-old mother, Claire. The story then flips back and forth between Helen's response to her present-day act and long flashbacks exploring her love/hate relationships with her emotionally volatile, agoraphobic mother and her suicidal, peculiarly obsessed father. Allen's calm, even voice makes Helen's most irrational actions (smothering her mother, cutting her clothes off, bathing her dead body and dragging it down to the basement) sound nearly as reasonable to listeners as they do to Helen. Allen also marvelously evokes the cracked, demented tones of Helen's aged mother. Unfortunately, the older Claire Knightly appears in only the smallest portion of the book, and Allen barely troubles to distinguish the voices of the other characters. Her unvarying voice, combined with the tediously introspective text, make this audio a real slog. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 27). (Sept.)

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Library Journal

Much has been made of Sebold's opening line to her new novel, but it immediately sets the listener up for a roller-coaster journey into ethics and family relationships that may seem too familiar to some and too discomforting to others. Helen Knightly's climactic decision opens the book, but her history with her mother, Clair, and her deceased father are brutally explored through the skillful weaving of memories and haunted immediacy. Almost Moonis very different from The Lovely Bones, and yet the strength of the author's sense of danger told rather matter-of-factly is highly compelling. Joan Allen's reading is almost hypnotic. Highly recommended.
—Joyce Kessel

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316034128
Publisher:
Hachette Book Group USA
Publication date:
10/01/2008

Meet the Author

Alice Sebold is the bestselling author of The Lovely Bones, a novel, and Lucky, a memoir. She lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Long Beach, California
Date of Birth:
September 6, 1963
Place of Birth:
Madison, Wisconsin
Education:
B.A., Syracuse University; studied poetry, University of Houston, 1984-85; M.F.A. in fiction, UC-Irvine, 1998

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The Almost Moon: A Novel 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 234 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By far one of the strangest books I have ever read. I actually felt guilty reading it once she states she killed her mother. The story line was disappointing at best. Since I bought the book I refused to not finish it, but after reading the last page I regretted the whole experience.
PandaBerry More than 1 year ago
I actually really enjoyed this book. I saw The Lovely Bones, then read the book and read the first chapter of this book in the back. I just had to get it. It may be because I come from a home where my grandmother was exactly like the mother in this book (A complete nut job), I can understand feeling hopeless and having nowhere to go. I'm not telling you to murder and hide the body of one of your loved ones. It's a fictional fantasy, people. You can't say you've never wished, not even in a fleeting moment, you could just kill somebody. Civilized people don't act on these thoughts, but being able to read a circumstance in a character's mind was quite interesting - the thoughts leading up to it, the murder, the inevitability of getting caught. I'd highly recommend this to someone who was similar interests, but if you're just hopping in to this author, I'd try The Lovely Bones, first.
Tiger-gal More than 1 year ago
"When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily." A great premise for a book as we all know people who are caring for the elderly and what a struggle that can be. I don't know anyone as strange as Helen and could not relate to her after the murder took place. I have enjoyed Sebold's other books, but was disappointed with this effort. It's too bad that a story with so much potential was just plain boring and cold. One of the worst endings to a book I have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the craziest book that I have ever read. I did not like it at all. The plot was way to out there and was horrible. I would not suggest this to anyone. Alice Sebold used to be one of my favorite authors but this book makes her look like a wacko.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite disturbing, thoroughly enjoyed Lucky and Lovely Bones, but could not continue with this one
eak321 More than 1 year ago
THE ALMOST MOON gives new meaning to "a day in the life." The entire story takes place over the course of two days, but it's really a lifetime of memories that comprise this novel. It all begins when Helen kills her mother one day. No, the novel isn't as evil, twisted, and morbid as it sounds. Her mother has Alzheimer's and, as we discover, has always been a little unstable. It's really a favor. But is it a favor to her mother or herself? The novel is very well written (as are Alice Sebold's other books, The Lovely Bones and Lucky). Sebold definitely knows how to write; her talent shines through. The story is told very conversationally from the viewpoint of Helen as she kills her mother and reacts to the death over the course of two days. During those two days, Helen is constantly reminded of events from her past that have led her to this point in her life. She spots something in her mother's house and it reminds her of a story from her childhood, which she readily relates to the reader. She goes to work as a nude art class model and is reminded of meeting her ex-husband. She cuts off her deceased mother's braid and she's reminded of the brushing of her hair. With these flashbacks, we learn more and more about Helen, her parents, her ex-husband, her children, the neighbors, and her relationship with each. It provides us insight into who she is and what events have shaped her life. Granted, I did not like Helen all that much. I thought she was self-pitying and did not take responsibility for her own actions/life. Like with most any book, at times it drags and at times it's a page-turner. And, occasionally, I would get a bit lost when Sebold was going back and forth between past and present. But these factors did not detract me from enjoying the work overall or recognizing THE ALMOST MOON as a good piece of fiction. Like I said, Sebold has a gift for writing, and I look forward to more of her novels in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive read this book several times in the past 2 years.. I have a difficult relationship with my mother and the way Sebold describes the mqin characters thought process, could not have been written nor described any better.. A great readifyour open minded to a not so happily ever after ending..
tirednurse More than 1 year ago
I love the way that Alice Sebold writes. However, this story is disturbing on many levels. Clearly, Helen has serious mental health issues, not only killing her mother, but in her actions afterward. Not at all what I expected. The ending just left me shaking my head, and made me feel pretty normal!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not worth reading.
TheAlmostMoon More than 1 year ago
After reading, The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold, it was not at all what I had expected it to be, considering it is a number one national bestseller. The main character, Helen Knightly, is a 49 year old, 20 year post-divorced mother of two adult children, living in the same small town she grew up in. She cares for her elderly mother who has been isolated in her own home since Helen was a child. Helen's mother has agoraphobia (fear of open spaces). Helen does not live with her mother. Both of her children have moved away. She has apparently grown up in a very dysfunctional family however; there is little development of any of the family characters, in my opinion, in the book. Her character is sketchy with attempts to portray the novel as exploring "the complex ties within families". I think there should be more time developing the characters. Helen's father committed suicide when she was in her teens, which was not really explained to my satisfaction, leaving her to grow up in an unbearable situation (a very strange mother). She seems to be very misguided making one bad decision after another in a 24 hour period. The books aim, seems to be total shock value, describing scenes in depth that are macabre in great detail and leaving out necessary detail in many parts. Although the details were not always pleasant to read, it was a great visual depiction of what was happening. I think Helen was portrayed as too waffling. The reader could not really defend what she was doing because there was no depth or personality developed. It seemed as if Helen were trying to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of huge family turmoil, but did not really come across as genuine. She had no long term relationships and could not face everyday challenges, so it is difficult to determine what really motivates her. I do not think the reader (not just myself) really felt they could understand what was going on under the exterior of the character. I don't think she really had grown or learned anything throughout the story. Helen doesn't take responsibility for what she leaves behind. This book did make me slightly interested in finding out where Helen would go after killing her mother and how the story would end. Nonetheless, I did not like this book. Overall it was disappointing. It was a dismal read. I have not read any other books by Alice Sebold and perhaps her other books are good. I think her descriptive writing is excellent. I believe the overall theme is, can we, "ourselves" control our destiny, or do those around us control it for us? That's for you to read and discover.
Anonymous 16 days ago
Really grabs your attension
Anonymous 6 months ago
Poorly developed characters and no ending.
lynnski0723 More than 1 year ago
Although quite disturbing and difficult to read in places, this book held my interest. I wanted to keep reading to see how it ended (which I didn't like, but won't ruin for others).
FernsB More than 1 year ago
One of the most profound stories I have ever read. Yes, it's not nice to kill your mother but this story is more than that. The honesty and profound truth Seabold writes about is one in a million. Any woman who examines the pain of awakening to what has been lost in childhood trauma and then reclaiming oneself will find this book strange comfort. I loved this book and so did my husband.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Job
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If it were possible, I would give Almost Moon a zero rating. There was nothing redeemable about this book. I should have stopped reading after the opening sentences. However, I stupidly did slough through half the book, hoping the characters would become less despicable and the plot line more interesting, With every page the book became darker and more hateful. A complete waste of valuable reading time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Lovely Bones, but this book wasn't even close. The story and actions of the main character are disturbing. It took forever for me to get through the book... after finally reaching the end, which was horrible, I hated that I had wasted any time on it at all.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was absolutely the worst book I have read in a while. The writing itself was a stream of consiousness disaster. The story line was no where near even remotely interesting and the ending does little to assuage that. As a matter of fact, it only confirms what you will already know to be a monumental waste of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a Sebold fan for many years, and really enjoyed her previous two books. 'The Almost Moon' was a graphic portrayel of a woman that, in many ways, faces some common challenges. It's shocking at times, but somehow the main character still comes off as someone relatable and human. This book may not be for everyone, but it's graphic in a delicious way that only Sebold can pull off. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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