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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Big Little Lies – Not a Parenting Handbook


There were big and little lies throughout Big Little Lies: Competitive barbs among the mothers, parents helping children too much with assignments, Amabella keeping secret the identity of her kindergarten torturer. Perry’s beating of his wife, Celeste, might seem to vie for biggest with his using his cousin’s name when he met, bullied and impregnated Jane. But the biggest lie was the refusal to tell the truth, by every witness to the inadvertent murder at the end of the story. If this book had been written recently, I would have guessed that at least one of the author’s goals was to demonstrate collusion. It seems such a good example of something that has been on everyone’s mind lately! But, the book was written in 2014, so it is free of that potential political influence.

Most of those at our meeting seemed to have enjoyed reading the book. Thanks to Joyce Z. for giving us the opportunity to read and discuss it! We raised questions: Was Madeleine always looking for a fight? Morna said Madeleine’s character trait was more that she didn’t back down from a fight than that she was looking for one. Was Celeste in love with her husband, Perry? Linda said Celeste was a victim type, which could explain why she stayed with Perry. Did we admire any of the characters? The only name that was mentioned here was, perhaps Tom.

We talked about the helicopter parenting in the book and how it related to our experiences. When she was a parent in rural Texas, Joyce Z. did not see anything like the parent community from the book. Heather saw helicopter parenting, not when she was parenting but when she was a teacher, which would have been closer temporally to the trend described in the book in 2014.

We talked about wealth and beauty. Both were noticeably influential and even powerful in Big Little Lies. Joyce Z. had noticed that looks were important in the book, and Flo joked that all Jane needed was a haircut to change her place in the society. Ken felt that Celeste’s beauty had robbed her of the chance to be valued for herself.

Choices was another topic we noted from the book. The children in the book seemed to be given too many choices and too much power.

Make no mistake - Big Little Lies is not a handbook for parents!

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