Helen's aged and decrepit mother, Clair (aged 88), has suffered from agoraphobia her entire adult life. All of the usual issues with growing older, and especially the idea of having to leave your house and live in a home, are intensified when the occupant is already suffering from non-age-related mental illness. It's dementia on top of an already embittered and angst-ridden mind. So, we're supposed to understand that after years of suffering through her mother's issues, Helen has simply had enough on this particular day, and without even thinking she kills her mother.
What follows is a strange hodgepodge of events: Helen calls her ex for help, she lands on the doorstep of her best friend to be greeted by her 30-year-old son, her ex shows up, she acts strangely, goes to work the next morning, and then there's even more odd behaviour. Tangled throughout the present like a vine are various bits of backstory, about Helen's marriage, her two kids, and of course, her relationship to her parents. In the end, the novel tries to represent the 24 hours after the act in real time, depicting the fragile state of Helen's own mind, bringing to the surface the reasons why she did what she did. Only, I didn't really believe it -- the whole thing seemed suspended in a haze somehow.
One of the best conversations about writing I've ever had was about protagonists. Whether or not a novel can be successful if the reader doesn't have an emotional reaction to the main character. In The Almost Moon, all of the haunting goodness that I remembered from The Lovely Bones was missing, and while it's a worthwhile attempt to push the boundaries in terms of mental illness in popular fiction, overall I found the character of Helen simply disappointing. I didn't care if she got caught. In fact, I kind of hoped that she did, and the ambiguous ending kind of left me thinking that I'm glad I only paid $2.99 for the book. So I'd have to say, "meh."
WHAT'S UP NEXT: From a previous post: "Here's my stack: "