Recently in a local book store I saw a huge stack of her second novel, Almost Moon on sale at 80 percent off the cover prize. I like to follow an author if I like their first novel so I bought it and now have read it.
When the opening sentence of a novel is
When it was all said and done, killing my mother came easilyyou pretty much know the book will not be a laugh riot and this for sure was not.
Almost Moon is the story of 24 hours in the life of Helen Knightly. The first few hours center on her daily life taking care of her elderly mother, who she has always hated since a child. She begins to ruminate on her childhood. Here is a memory of Christmas past
Hanging above me were the clear-glass globes that took on the cast of separate worlds. I imagined a mother and daughter in each of them. In one, the mother and daughter would be sharing an old fashioned sled as they slid down a deep downy bank of snow. In another, they drink hot cider and told each other stories in front of a fire. In the final globe, the daughter held her mother's head beneath the surface of the icy water, strangling her as she drowned.
Helen is divorced and has grown children. She is 49 and works as a nude artists' model at various art schools in her area. Her father killed himself, her mother was as cold the ice water Helen imagined her drowning in. Once the mother is dead, she realizes that she has to do something to cover it up. She contacts her ex-husband, Jake, and he comes to the house to help her figure out what to do. The body bears the marks of violence so they cannot simply say she died (the mother was 88). The plot action is about half in Helen reflecting on the events in her raising that lead to this day and half on her and Jake's schemes for avoiding criminal charges. (Jake knows he can be charged for not turning her in). The police show up, Helen tries to be artful and cast suspicion on a neighbor. There is some suspense generated by our curiosity about how it will all play out but not much.
I can endorse this book only to those like myself who enjoyed her first novel and want to follow her subsequent novels. I do not endorse it to those whose reading time is limited and I do not endorse it to be read unless you want, as I do, to follow the development of a promising author. For most people (and maybe for myself if I had not bought it!) I would say wait for her next novel and just skip Almost Moon. It does do a pretty good job of showing the negative aspects of elder care and showing how the way we are treated as a child can shape our adulthood. If you have a lot of reading time, you loved Lonely Bones and have a high tolerance for cliched writing then you might like Almost Moon.