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The Almost Moon: A Novel Hardcover – October 16, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (October 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316677469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316677462
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (370 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sebold's disappointing second novel (after much-lauded The Lovely Bones) opens with the narrator's statement that she has killed her mother. Helen Knightly, herself the mother of two daughters and an art class model old enough to be the mother of the students who sketch her nude figure, is the dutiful but resentful caretaker for her senile 88-year-old mother, Clair. One day, traumatized by the stink of Clair's voided bowels and determined to bathe her, Helen succumbs to a life-long dream and smothers Clair, who had sucked the life out of [Helen] day by day, year by year. After dragging Clair's corpse into the cellar and phoning her ex-husband to confess her crime, Helen has sex with her best friend's 30-year-old blond-god doofus son. Jumping between past and present, Sebold reveals the family's fractured past (insane, agoraphobic mother; tormented father, dead by suicide) and creates a portrait of Clair that resembles Sebold's own mother as portrayed in her memoir, Lucky. While Helen has clearly suffered at her mother's hands, the matricide is woefully contrived, and Helen's handling of the body and her subsequent actions seem almost slapstick. Sebold can write, that's clear, but her sophomore effort is not in line with her talent. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Since Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones (****1/2 Nov/Dec 2002) was a runaway hit, critics inevitably compared that poignant tale of a murdered teenage girl to this long-awaited, brooding account of a woman pushed to tragic extremes. Some critics praised Sebold’s evocative writing and bleak depiction of family relationships in the shadow of mental illness, but the majority of critics complained that the characters were wholly unsympathetic, their decisions and actions incomprehensible, and the plot implausible. Some of the discord may result from Moon’s ugly subject matter and the natural compassion elicited by the young murder victim in The Lovely Bones (as opposed to the cold-blooded Helen). Sebold’s fans may want to skip this one.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


More About the Author

Alice Sebold is the bestselling author of "The Lovely Bones," a novel, and "Lucky," a memoir. Both are #1 New York Times bestsellers. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Sebold grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended Syracuse University, as well as the University of Houston and the University of California, Irvine. She now lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.

Customer Reviews

I had a very difficult time finishing this book- it was hard to read.
L. Waldvogel
I did want to like this book, but, sorry to say, it didn't end up that way.
Patience Gray
The main reason I did not care for this book was the main character, Helen.
Pamela A. Poddany

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

247 of 261 people found the following review helpful By Stephen S. Mills on December 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It is fine to not like a book and to say so, but the reasons many of these negative reviews are giving seem very confused. What I believe has happened here is that Alice Sebold is a very dark writer who takes on subject matters that most authors don't and somehow she fell into great success with the Lovely Bones, which is wonderful. The problem is Alice Sebold isn't a typical best-selling author and by that I mean she isn't a sell out. She doesn't write books to please the masses and that is very clear from this second novel.

The Almost Moon is not a book that's going to appeal to a mass audience, mostly because mass audiences want an "enjoyable" book that has a clear-cut ending and may have dark moments but leaves you with a sense of hope. The Almost Moon is none of these things. But does that make it a bad book? I'd like to argue no.

This book is compelling and strange and never lets you off the hook for a second. It challenges your thinking, your own relationships, and that thin line between normal behavior and the grotesque. This may not be "enjoyable" but it is powerful and worthy of anyone's time. I like dark books that go against the grain. The majority of books being written today are sloppy, commercial crap and this is not.

As for those who hated the ending I challenge you to re-think the book. The point is not to have a wrapped up story. The point is to explore the immediate aftermath (24 hours) of a horrible event in someone's life. It ends right where it should. This isn't some murder mystery crime novel that's going to tie everything into a little package like an episode of Law and Order. It's more complex than that.

I challenge people to take on this book and to see it for it is.
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202 of 227 people found the following review helpful By David Kusumoto on October 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
On September 30, 2007, I posted an admiring review about Alice Sebold's first novel, "The Lovely Bones." That book was a literary sensation in 2002 and sold more than ten million copies worldwide.

Sebold was gracious about her success, but seemed a little baffled that millions would interpret it as a sentimental message of hope - because she herself, despite overcoming great personal adversity - isn't a born optimist. In "The Lovely Bones," she parsed violence without being graphic and explored relationships with a delicate hand. Her detached and deconstructive writing style - then and now - reminds me of the great Joan Didion.

Unfortunately, the success of "The Lovely Bones" works against Sebold in "The Almost Moon." I believe it will anger readers who made her first novel a blockbuster. The title refers to someone who's not all there - a celestial body in periods of darkness - hiding bits of itself to the naked eye. It's a story about things we hate about ourselves, things we go to great lengths to hide to meet society's demand to be "normal."

While "The Almost Moon" is a superbly crafted tale of madness, it's also a house of horrors better suited for readers used to the savage imagery of Luis Buñuel, Man Ray, Salvador Dali and David Lynch. It's as surreal and unpleasantly graphic as one of Francisco Goya's Black Paintings, a monster eating one's child.
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76 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on January 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Mental illness, and other serious disabilities, almost always have a profound effect upon families and the individuals that make up those families. The Almost Moon tells a story about one such individual, Helen Knightley, whose mother has suffered from severe agoraphobia all her life and as the novel commences is sliding rapidly into senile dementia. When Helen impulsively smothers her mother, who has just soiled herself and continues to snipe at her daughter while she attempts to clean her up, the severe repression that has always crippled Helen is violently ripped away. In the course of 24 harrowing hours, the truths of Helen's life and identity rush to the surface with almost unbearable clarity.

Sebold wrote The Almost Moon using a combination of stream of consciousness and memory. Readers who are not comfortable with novels based upon irrationality, and inner rather than overt forms of action, will probably dislike this novel. But mental illness is illogical. Watching Helen come to terms with what she has done, and why she has done it, is a slow, unpleasant process. But unlike those who found the ending of this book inconclusive, I found it to be clear and, well, logical. I think I know very well what is about to happen. I won't say more to avoid spoilers.

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, are other titles that deal with mental illness in a way that seems more palatable to many readers. But, though I find myself in the minority here on Amazon, I enjoyed The Almost Moon as well, dark as it is. Life is not always sunny and warm.
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