Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

This is not one of my favorites...really not one of my favorites.
But, there were parts that lifted it up a bit. It is the story of Helen - a truly twisted tale of a murder. Helen is telling the story of the murder of her mother - and she is the murderess. (Weird word - murderess)

Anyway - Helen's mother is an agrophobe who has slowly smothered her...or so we think. Helen's father committed suicide years earlier. Helen has carried the weight of her mother in her outlook, her relationships and her very being. Murdering her should have lifted that weight - rather she is bound to the house, the body, and the braid that hung down her mother's back.

It's a dark story and very depressing!

But - there was a standout scene - that remains with me...Helen's father cared for her mother in a loving and doting way as he dealt with his own mental illness. She didn't really understand this until he took her to see his old home. It was in a town that had been moved due to a dam and the coming flood. But, the flood didn't really happen, instead it was more of an oozing of mud and muck which kept people out and caused the houses to die a slow death for a dejected place. It was there, in that empty world, her father found solace. There he created the family and the life he really wanted. He shared that with his daughter on a summer afternoon. Her father had created wooden cutouts of family scenes in the deserted rooms of his family house, scenes depicting events from his childhood and Helen's including the siblings that Helen would never have.

That scene seems to me to be the center of this story - a woman caught in an impossible life, a life that should have changed with a whoosh as she was freed from her mother through marriage and moving. Instead she was tied to the decaying life of her mother and the scenes of an imagined world.

So - I followed Helen through the day following the death of her mother. Hoping for some sort of resolution at the end...WRONG. It just just stops. I really hate that. That in itself made me decide how much I really didn't like the book.

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