Title: Real Life & Liars
Author: Kristina Riggle
Publisher: Avon A
Release Date: June 16, 2009
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the back cover:
For Mirabelle Zielinski’s children, happiness always seems to be just out of reach. Her older daughter, Katya, clings to a stale marriage with a workaholic husband and three spoiled children. Her son, Ivan, is a down-in-the-dumps songwriter with the worst taste in women. Irina is a young beauty who once lived life on a whim and is now facing the rest of her days with a baby and a husband nearly twice her age. The weekend of their parents’ anniversary party love will be found, hearts will be broken, and lies will be revealed. But the biggest shock may come from Mirabelle herself, because she has a secret that will change everything.
I was first introduced to Kristina Riggle through The Debutante Ball, which is a group blog for a select group of debut authors. I have loved every single book I’ve discovered through the Debs and Real Life & Liars is no exception.
First, let’s discuss the character development in Real Life & Liars. The book is told from four differing points of view: Mira (the hippie mom), Katya (the controlling and stiff older daughter), Ivan (the failed-because-he-didn’t-really-try-songwriter son), and Irina (the free spirit younger daughter). These are incredibly different people with varying thoughts and emotions, yet Riggle captures them all perfectly. The reader sympathizes with and roots for each; even when they make bad decisions or snap at one another, it’s easy to understand why through Riggle’s writing. Instead of telling the reader about the characters, she shows us who they are and what there is to love in this dysfunctional family.
I also loved the premise and the quote that Riggle begins with: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This quote from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is so demonstrative of the book, and life in general. And I think that’s the best part of Real Life & Liars – the fact that it is actually real. These characters aren’t over-dramatized for the sake of entertainment. Instead, they seem like they are ambling through life along with each one of us. Dramatic things happen every once in awhile, yes, but mostly they are just plodding through real life. The way the novel is written, the characters have their own lives – they were living before the story begins, and they continue to live after the last page has been turned.
I devoured this book and loved every second of it. The characters, the writing, the plot: they all fit together perfectly. I definitely recommend this book and can’t wait to see what Riggle comes up with next!
Thank you to the HarperCollins First Look program for sending me this book to review!