The Almost Moon

The Almost Moon

by Alice Sebold


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A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable new novel 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316067362
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 09/08/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 198,309
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 870L (what's this?)

About 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.


Long Beach, California

Date of Birth:

September 6, 1963

Place of Birth:

Madison, Wisconsin


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. 294 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.
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.
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.
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..
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 More than 1 year 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).
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.
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.
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!!
laws on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very dark. In the first few pages of the book, Helen has killed her mentally ill elderly mother. Helen 's life and childhood were not normal due to both her parents mental illness. Helen has finally had enough. Her mother wetting herself was the last straw. Why would anyone in their right mind do what Helen did? Many people have had bad childhoods and been abused like Helen. I believe Helen loved her mother in her warped way but still. This was sad for everyone: Helen's children, her ex husband, her friend.
bkswrites on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dark is one thing, but give me a reason to readI couldn't get past the first quarter of this book, and neither could most members of the book group that selected it. I'm not complaining about the darkness of the story. I'd love to read a really skilled story of mental illness and its effect on a family. But even in less than 2 of 8 discs, I simply hated the murdered mother, and hated the murdering daughter who narrates the book. No one seems to have any redeeming or sympathetic qualities. There were cameo appearances by a couple of good-seeming neighbors, but they were cardboard cutouts, as if Sebold cannot imagine a good-hearted, caring soul. I had a difficult time putting together all the flashback information (and flashbacks do sort of violate the "24 hours" structure of the book). But the worst part was that I simply didn't care what I wasn't getting; I wanted only to get on to something less dreadful, or something that at least I could learn from. I also particularly resented Sebold's characterization, from the opening page, of the mother as a dementia patient. Clearly, the woman had been psychotic for most of her adult life. It's unfair to the many families that suffer through more "normal" diagnoses of dementia.I feel sad for this writer who seems to be getting nothing herself from the practice of her art and certainly is giving this reader nothing. I would worry even more if I were her mother, or her daughter. I hope she can find some healing and hope and win me over with her next book.
KAzevedo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is about the mental illness of an entire family, not just a mother. Everyone in the family is a victim, something I think many of those who have reviewed "The Almost Moon" on LT do not understand. Since it is written from the point of view of the daughter, Helen, it is easy to become lost in her memories of her childhood and miss the illness of her father, whom she idolizes. It is a horrifying, dark, and achingly sad book, but compelling, especially for anyone who has experienced caring for a mentally ill parent. The big question for me is, "Why does she stay, why does she continue?"; the same question I have had for myself. But the second important question is, "How could she not stay?" This is an important book for anyone who is honest enough to admit their love/hate relationship with a parent, and who can relate to the desire to end the suffering.
april85fool on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What the heck was that? I pushed myself through this book continuously thinking "it must get better" but it never did. The writing style was great but the plot line, to say the least was not for me. The most ironic moment? Finding this book on a "Suggestions for Mother's Day" table at a major bookstore. Sure, here you go, happy mother's day mom, this is what I want to do... It's every mother's dream, :/
milk_toast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an awful book. It had promise, it really did. The narrative seemed scattered and incomplete. The relationship with the younger man seemed awkward and unnecessary. The main character's hatred towards her own mother was shocking and rather sad. All in all, I did not enjoy this book.
chutzpanit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read both of Alice Sebold's other books and truly enjoyed them. A day later and I'm still not sure what I thought about this one. A daughter, Helen, in her late forties, her mentally ill mother and her deceased father. It was very interesting to read about how Helen grew up in what was a very difficult life, the mother was extremely mentally ill and was agoraphobic, not leaving the house for years at a time.I think the most interesting part to me was the affect that this mother had on the life of her fully grown daughter, Helen, and that even after she was married with children, she felt the need to protect her mother and chose to return home.Clearly the most shocking part of the book happened within the first chapter, when Helen killed her mother. It wasn't premeditated but something that almost just kind of happened. The worst part almost wasn't the actual killing of her mother but the hours that ensued after.I felt that I had just really gotten into the book towards the end and thus was very disappointed when it ended in what I felt was a very unsatisfying way. I wish there had been more of a conclusion but then again, my imagination can always make up some pretty imaginative ways to end the story!
tundra on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first chapter of this book was horrible. After reading Lovely Bones, I was expecting something fantastic but this book falls far short. After reading some reviews of other readers, I decided reading more would be a waste of time.
anterastilis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hmm.So, this is Alice Sebold of The Lovely Bones fame. Her new book (her sophomore novel) is similar in tone to The Lovely Bones, but very different in character and plot. So much so, that it's gotten me worried.See, once upon a time, I loved a book called The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Actually, I'll go as far as to say it's one of my all-time favorite books. It concerns five Classical History students at a small, liberal arts college in the Northeast. The students are a secretive bunch, and they get it in their minds to hold an honest-to-Gods Bacchanal. Things go awry, with the force and irony of any good Greek tragedy. I loved it with every fiber of my Classical-history-major being, and I waited impatiently (for ten freaking years!) for her second novel to be released. And when it was, I bought it off the shelf with barely a glance.It was about a 10-year-old girl in the deep south in the late 1970's. Same tone...but where were my history-obsessed college students? The indulgent and inspiring professor? Where were the people that I related to, Donna Tartt? What did you do with them, and who the hell is this precocious kid, Harriet?No matter how good of a novel it was (and it did get widespread acclaim), I was disappointed and missed Henry, Bunny, Richard, Charles, Camilla, and Francis...I missed that to which I could personally relate.So, why am I bringing this up NOW? What does this have to do with Alice Sebold?I've taken many requests for The Almost Moon at the library. I'd have to say that 2/3 of them are from teenage girls. These are the people that clutch their well-worn copy of The Lovely Bones to their chests and sigh "Susie Salmon!".* I think that The Lovely Bones hit a nerve thatLurlene McDaniel has been plucking at for years: that of the tragic teenage girl. Stories that hormonal young women devour whilst sobbing into their pillows.The Almost Moon is about the tumultuous relationship between a woman in her eighties (Clair) and her daughter (Helen). It takes place over a 24-hour period, and consists mostly of flashbacks to Helen's youth, and what it was like growing up with Clair as a mother. It's a tragic tale of frustration and losing control - on both of their parts. It's a wretched story of two lives that revolve around each other, poisoning each other. I skimmed parts of it because I just wasn't digging the melodrama. There are parts of this book that are truly baffling: the things that Clair and Helen do, the way that Sebold writes (there are some god-awful comparisons and squick-worthy observations), and how she jumps around haphazardly from scene to scene, character to character, concept to concept. I didn't enjoy it. It was a huge disappointment.So, what's the point of this super-long review?I think that Alice Sebold is going to confuse, and then lose a significant part of her readership. Now, I'm not saying that she should have pumped out another 30 *sigh* "Susie Salmon!" novels. She's an established author now, she can write whatever the hell she wants and we'll buy it. But I can't help feeling concerned for those teenage girls who are impatiently waiting for me to return the book so that THEY can read it with their tissues handy. I think that Alice Sebold will lose them after the first chapter. I just don't think they'll be able to relate to a 60-year-old woman's dealings with her 80-year-old mother in the same way as they did with *sigh* "Susie Salmon!". I feel really badly for these girls that are going to get all excited about reading a new book by a cool author...and wind up with this lumbering, cringe-worthy tale.This book is going to surprise a LOT of people...and not in a good way. Pass it by if you loved The Lovely Bones. I don't want you to sully the experience of reading that book by reading this one, knowing that somehow they came out of the same mind.* Susie Salmon is the main character in The Lovely Bones, the one with whom the female teen population is almost universally enamored.
knielsen83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, I can't say I'm impressed. The book was a tumble of thoughts from the main character, interupting the story line consistantly and the ending was just horrid. Horrible depressing and really just lacking, I can't really say it's worth the trouble reading.
JadedJenn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very disappointing. I thought it was very boring and I did not connect with the main character. I understood her hatred of her mother and her desire to kill her. What I didn't understand was her inability to escape her mother. She made it seem like that was her mother's fault. Really, it wasn't. She could have left her mother at any time. No one would fault her for it. By the end of the book I wanted Helen to kill herself.