Almost Moon: A Novel

Hardcover | September 2, 2010

byAlice Sebold

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A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable new novel by the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.


For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined. Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers, the meaning of devotion, and the line between love and hate. It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.

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An intelligent, generous, and essentially loving person finds herself cutting a long braid from her mother's head…having just killed her. So goes the opening scene in Alice Sebold's new book, The Almost Moon. In her newest novel, Sebold, the author of The Lovely Bones, draws us into a mother-daughter story which is at once unique and univer...

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From the Publisher

A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable new novel by the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have...

Alice Sebold is the bestselling author of The Lovely Bones, a novel, and Lucky, a memoir. She lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.

other books by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones

Paperback|Apr 20 2004

$14.54 online$20.99list price(save 30%)
The Almost Moon
The Almost Moon

Paperback|Sep 8 2008

$15.44 online$16.99list price(save 9%)
Lucky: A Memoir
Lucky: A Memoir

Paperback|Sep 16 2002

$13.18 online$19.49list price(save 32%)
see all books by Alice Sebold
Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.5 × 5.88 × 1 inPublished:September 2, 2010Publisher:Little, Brown and Company USLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0316677469

ISBN - 13:9780316677462

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from too selfish I could not get into this book at all mainly because I couldn't stand Helen's character. She was so selfish and it drove me nuts. I couldn't relate to any of the characters or relationships in this story. And to top it all off I was not pleased by the conclusion at all. Drives me nuts when you don't find out what happens to characters.
Date published: 2013-11-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Almost Moon is Almost There This novel is about a woman's very strange and difficult, to say the least, relationship with her disturbed mother. An almost unconcsious act of violence forces Helen to examine and reflect upon her and her mom's history. This novel was well-written, but I'm not sure how I felt about it. I actually found it very depressing. "So much in life is about almosts, not quites...[like the moon]...The moon is whole all the time, but we can't always see it. What we see is an almost moon or a not-quite moon" Pg 133
Date published: 2013-09-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for me ***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*** Let me start this by saying that I loved The Lovely Bones. I thought it was a wonderfully-written book that was miles higher than the movie. Thinking I’d try something else written by Alice Sebold, I picked up The Almost Moon from the library and was quite disappointed (read: happy I checked the book out at the library and didn’t buy it!). I expected so much more from such a great writer. This book was quite disturbing, focusing on Helen, who is dealing with her invalid mother. Not able to take it anymore, Helen kills her. This might have been a tolerable book to read, if the reader could actually like Helen, but she’s pretty unlikeable and a horrible person throughout the whole book. Sebold might have set out writing The Almost Moon thinking the reader would show compassion towards Helen, but the decisions Helen makes, along with her narcissism, are just unbearable. The description of The Almost Moon makes it seem like this book is fast-paced, but I was so disgusted (and mildly bored) that it was anything but. If I could have empathized with Helen in any way, maybe I would have cared about her past and what she had to go through. But I didn’t. Sebold might have been trying to shock her reader, but talking about Helen’s mother’s genetalia, or having Helen sleep with her best friend’s son, is gross and disturbing. Not so much shocking. When I picked up The Almost Moon and read the first few lines, I assumed that this book would be about Helen coping with killing her mother—with people, with therapy—and dealing with the consequences. I didn’t expect an entire book written in a kind of stream-of-consciousness bouncing back and forth from the present to the past. I really don’t recommend this book. Even if you’re a fan of Alice Sebold. Read The Lovely Bones – it’s a much more moving read.
Date published: 2012-01-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I just couldn't finish it! I can probably list on one hand how many books in my lifetime I couldn't actually read all the way through, and Alice Sebold's latest is now among them. This book was just too morally repulsive, for me to continue, how this ever made Heathers list, I have no idea, but I bet indigo had to give a lot of refunds. Not horrible writing, Sebold has talent, but a truly horrible story IMHO. Read something else, ANYTHING else.
Date published: 2011-03-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from It works A bit strange. It wasn't my favorite book.
Date published: 2011-02-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Conflicting emotions This novel from Alice Sebold tells the story of a woman, who kills her own mother. This happens at the very start at the book, and captures the reader’s attention. Unfortunately, the rest of the book cannot live up to the first 50 pages or so, which are fantastic. When the story focuses on the lead character’s family, decisions on how to deal with her actions, and trying to avoid the police investigations, it becomes a bit slow and indulgent. While trying to figure out her future and come to grips with what she has done, the main character recalls all the awful things her mother has done to her, but also recounts the things that made their relationship special. While often disjointed at times from a writing standpoint, Sebold is able to translate onto the page the mixed emotions and love-hate conflict one feels for their own parents. Moreover, Sebold is able to show that people often blame their parents, albeit sometimes justified, for all the problems in their life when older. At times, the constant flashbacks are a bit much and distracting to the reader. I wouldn’t call the book a page-turner. However, I enjoyed the novel for its interesting idea and some interesting insight into familial relations.
Date published: 2011-01-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing All her life, Helen's life has been affected by her mom. Helen always knew her mom was different from others, but only when her mom watched a boy die on their street after being hit by a car without rushing to help did Helen realize why. Her mom has an undiagnosed mental illness. This illness caused her mom to stay inside for years at a time, causing Helen to grow up much faster than she should have and putting tremendous stress on her father. The book starts with Helen killing her mother and what happens in the next 24 hours as she remembers her relationship with her mom, kids, ex-husband, best friend, and neighbours. For an author that has written characters that are extremely easy to connect with, that certainly wasn't the case with The Almost Moon. I didn't even understand where the characters were coming from until half way through the book, let alone EVER connect with them. Parts of the book are cringe-worthy in how unhealthy some of the relationships were. To be honest, I can't say I fully understood this book. Perhaps the characters were too deep and the relationship too intense for me. I can understand why some people may like this book, but it just wasn't to my tastes.
Date published: 2010-06-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from disgusting I, like the rest of the people who commented, was a fan of The Lovely Bones. I bought this book without reading what it was about and was I ever shocked. I got through half of the book before putting it down. Somehow, reading about a woman who kills her mother and wonders of the best way to get rid of her body seems a little over the top for me. Good thing I bought the book on sale, even then...it wasn't worth the 10 bucks.
Date published: 2010-06-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh.... Ok....so I know I said I'd only review what I really liked....But I feel it is my duty to say while some of you may enjoy this one, after a masterpiece that was The Lovely Bones, I was highly disappointed. The Almost Moon is a wonderful idea of a book, but it always left me with the feeling that it has to get better the further you go. The main character could certainly be the type some women could relate to; divorced, grown children, and a dependent mother, from what I took to be a lifetime of roles flipped. Helen took care of her mother since she was a child, and after many years of it, finally snapped and killed her in what she thought, and some readers may agree, was a mercy-killing. I took it that way, but I also saw Helen to be a once spirited woman who has been dragged down by her life, yet still yearning for something at 50; freedom from her mother....the feeling of being desired again which she gave into with her best friend's son, 20 years her junior (go Helen!) who was looking for an escape and chose the wrong way out. Like I said, great general idea for a good book. But this book was slow....to me, it was an ok read....then came the end....just that....you know when you watch a movie and it ends abruptly and as a viewer you're sitting there, the credits are rolling and you're thinking, "WHAT? That's it? Well, what the hell happened??? It can just end like that!!" and leaves you wondering...That is how this book ends. Pissed me right off! LOL I didn't hate the book....but I'm not sure if I liked it either. All I can say is you'll have to decide for yourself. Everyone is different.
Date published: 2010-05-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very disappointed! I chose this book because I read Lovely Bones a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I could barely finish The Almost Moon - it bored me to tears. Although I think the concept of the book was potentially moving, it lacked passion or the ability to keep me interested.
Date published: 2010-02-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from meh I seldom take books out from the library, I take out a lot of Audio books but not actual paper books. It always seems that the popular books are always not available or on a VERY long waiting list where you have to wait ages to get them. So when I saw The Almost Moon By Alice Sebold sitting there in the “library staff recommends” section I was happy because Alice Sebold has written lovely bones and I thought it was a GREAT book. I am sorry to say that the book disappointed me. It was so meh. It is a story about a woman who on an impulse kills her 80 something year old mother. Don’t worry I didn’t spoil anything because this happens right as soon as the book starts. The first half of the book goes on and on. It felt like it dragged on forever. It was very disconnected and all over the place. I usually can follow a plot quiet easily but the first part of the book left me very confused. The second half of the book was alright. Nothing to write home about. All in all the book was messy and all over the place. I didn’t connect with the characters, some parts were far-fetched and the ending was anti climatic. If I didn’t love the authors earlier book I most probably would have passed by it at the library and not given it a second thought.
Date published: 2009-12-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The title did reflect the content but I didn't enjoy the book I am sorry to say that I didn't enjoy this book at all. The subject was OK but the story line left me wondering why she even wrote the book - it was not entertaining in anyway and rather boring for the most part - just sort of around and around with no real ending that satisfied even a student scholar who would take meaning from some of the actions. Nothing was significant and nothing made a whole lot of sense.. I am so very disappointed with Alice Sebold as I loved her first novel, The Lovely Bones and her biography Lucky was somewhat good as well. This book was beyond my understanding - maybe it is just my way of understanding, but it fell short of Ms. Sebold's talents as a writer in my opinion!
Date published: 2009-08-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Emotionally Heavy The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold is about a woman who, in a moment of feeling overwhelmed, desperate, and frustrated, kills her elderly mother. From the time of that event, her life starts to unravel, she makes many poor choices, and she revisits many childhood memories. For the record, those aren’t spoilers. The murder of her mother is revealed in synopsis on the cover. The book was very well written, and vividly captured the disturbing nature of the events that take place. The first fifty pages left me feeling disgusted and horrified, but at the same time I could almost understand how such an act could be merciful. A lot of conflicting thoughts and emotions were inspired in me. The main character, Helen, was hard to relate to, for obvious reasons, but I found myself seeking to understand her actions and thought process. Helen made a lot of very poor decisions throughout the book, but her situation was described in such a way that one could see how she would be driven to make such choices. The exploration of Helen’s childhood was very engrossing, particularly as it delved into her relationship with her mother. As one would expect, Helen suffered a lot of inner conflict during the course of this novel. The strength of Sebold’s writing is that she is able to insightfully portray the inner monologue of a character who is struggling with a lot of contradictory emotions in a way that it’s fluid and easy to follow. Upon finishing The Almost Moon, I couldn’t help but questioned my own morality with regards to what I would do in Helen’s situation. This novel was an uncomfortable read because the subject matter is often hard to digest, but overall, I enjoyed it. The Almost Moon was a heavy read expressive of a great deal of difficult emotions, but I would recommend it to anyone looking for an original well written novel.
Date published: 2009-03-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It is not The Lovely Bones . . . that is why the title is The Almost Moon. It is unfortunate that many reviewers didn't really enjoy this book but fortunately for me, I read many of their reviews before picking up The Almost Moon and buried all notations that this would be similar to The Lovely Bones. I personally enjoy when authors write different books. I hate picking up a novel and thinking, didn't he/she already write this book? That being said, there are some characteristics in the novel that remain true to Sebold's style: dark, satirical, intensity, and most importantly, I favour how she never feels it necessary to provide the reader with the answers to all of the questions. She challenges her readers to think for themselves, to engage the characters on a personal level. I really enjoyed this book. It is not for everyone and by about the 60th page in, you will know if it is for you or not.
Date published: 2009-02-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from So-so I have read Alice's two other novels, and although I did like this book, it wasn't my favourite. I had read reviews prior to reading this book, and by what some of the reviews said, I was expecting it to be really graphic and detailed. It really wasn't, at least not in my opinion. The main character kills her mother, that much you can find out just by reading the back of the book. How and why she kills her is...well, it didn't happen how I was thinking it would. It wasn't done in a gruesome way at all, it was one of the more peaceful ways to die. Throughout the book you are told alot of back story, and it really helps to figure out why she really did it. The whole book takes place in the span of about a day. In that day though, the main character is explained very well, as well as her mother and father. I do recommend this book to others who enjoyed Alice's two previous novels.
Date published: 2009-02-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disturbing book I didn't enjoy this as much as "The Lovely Bones". The novel begins with Helen's horrific crime. I eagerly read the book hoping to understand why Helen crosses this boundary. Instead, I found Helen unworthy of redemption. Perhaps Sebold wanted to emulate Dostoevsky's "Crime & Punishment" but Helen never even reaches a moral dilemma to enable salvation.
Date published: 2009-01-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unusual but Intriguing The Almost Moon is the second book I’ve read by Alice Sebold (the other being The Lovely Bones). This book was a bit like watching a train wreck – you couldn’t really believe what was happening but you couldn’t look away. The main character is not terribly sympathetic – we meet her right after she has killed her elderly mother – but we can all recognize the humanity in her. Sebold is clearly a writer in a different category from most. She tackles the most unusual story lines and holds the reader for the entire novel. While I enjoyed The Lovely Bones more, if enjoy is the right word to use with Sebold’s novel topics, I still found this book to be a very good read.
Date published: 2008-11-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Amost Moon,...Almost Great I much more preferred The Lovely Bones. This is the story of a woman who almost-spontaneously kills her mother and when happens in the hours to pass. I am still somewhat undecided on the ending, even after rereading it a few times.
Date published: 2008-09-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different. this book was hard to get into. the first half of the book was so gruesome that i was afraid of what might happen next, after reading that this woman not only killed her own mother, but dragged her into the basement to hide her in the freezer, than went out to her best friend's son's place and slept with him, among other things.. but once all the twisted information was spilled, it was actually a pretty interesting book, though i still find it did't compare to the lovely bones.
Date published: 2008-09-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from very troubling This is a very troubling book. It all takes place in the span of 24 hours after Helen murders her mother. Helen's mother, Clair is mentally ill and very demanding on her daughter. She also suffers from agoraphobia, the fear of leaving your own home. When a neighbour calls Helen to tell her that her mother does not even recognize her, Helen goes over to find her mother sitting in her own waste. What is she to do? Well, her solution is murder. Helen is far too controlled. The events that follow are really not believable. The book is written in the first person but it is too literary for that and the fact that Helen is trying to come to terms with what she has done. Sebold does develop the characters very well. The relationship between Helen and her parents and their relationship is very complex and the reader is pulled in. I have loved Sebold's previous two books but didn't like this one much.
Date published: 2008-09-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from give it a chance & forget lovely bones This book had all the potential of a great book. An interesting story line, great characters and conflict. However Alice Sebold had the cards set against her for this book. I read this when it first came out and finished it utterly disappointed. Now 9 months later I have re read it and found a new liking for it. Lovely Bones was FABULOUS!!!! It was an amazing book that an authour dreams of creating far down in their career. She just happened to do it right away. The expectations were high and for many people Lovely Bones was a quick favourite. The Almost Moon when compared to Lovely Bones is mediocore at best. When you take it aside and seperate the two it's a captivating read. If you're looking for something to compare to Lovely Bones this won't be it. I was originally disappointed with this title because we saw what this authour could create and we hoped for the same results. Alot like myself were disappointed but all in all I think this book was worthy of it's best seller status. Give it a fair chance and if you can stop yourself from comparing to Lovely Bones you'll probably find yourself enjoying it more.
Date published: 2008-07-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Terribly Despressing. I adored the lovely bones and read this novel shortly after it's release and was extremely disappointed. I found that the novel featured no redeeming characters and that you are made to care for neither the protagonist nor any of the secondary characters. The story is long and rather pointless and I found myself in a depressed mood just by reading it. Like another review stated, there is no climax and I found that at the end (which doesn't entirely tell you what happens to the main character and leaves you hanging) I just didn't even care which way it went. Definitely one to skip.
Date published: 2008-06-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The long disapointment Thank god I listened to this book on Audiobook, I don't think I could trudge through it in paper format. It's long, circuitous, and worst of all - so anticlimatic that I'm not even sure there WAS a climax in this book. If you like a story that has a point or a conclusion, steer clear of this one.
Date published: 2008-01-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not bad ... not great (SPOILER ALERT ... SORT OF ... MAYBE NOT) I can't help but dislike being left hanging at the end of a book. I expected more considering all the hype the book generated. It wasn't too bad, but it could have been so much better. The characters had a lot of potential but seemed to go off on unrealistic "adventures".
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good read and well written I enjoyed this book, but found it a tad bit depressing. I loved The Lovely Bones so decided to read this book based on the author's first book. I like the way the author writes and the overall story was engaging. Due to past experiences in my life I found this book at times painful to read. Only for that reason did I not thoroughly enjoy this well-written book.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another great read from Sebold The Almost Moon pulls you in from the first chapter, much like The Lovely Bones did. At times, I was unsure that I could finish the book because of the main character's frame of mind, but at the same time, it is what kept it in my hands. A keeper for my shelves!
Date published: 2008-01-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not what I wanted I read the first line of the novel and thought that this would be an exciting and interesting read. I had read The lovely bones before, so I had expected something similar... however I found myself trudging through the book and only finishing it in hopes that it might get better. If you are looking for something like The Lovely Bones... This book might not be for you.
Date published: 2007-12-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Couldn't be bothered finishing it! I absolutely LOVED the Lovely Bones. This was a huge disappointment! I read 65 pages and decided not to waste my time any longer. I see that I am not the only one feeling this way.
Date published: 2007-12-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from sadly disappointed After reading and rereading The Lovely Bones I was checking the mail everyday for this one to arrive and I am sorry that I bought it. I felt no empathy for Helen whatsoever, and the characters never seemed to develop into what I thought they should be. I kept reading in hopes that it would improve...but it did not. This is not a book to buy~go to the local library instead.
Date published: 2007-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book is FAULTLESS.... People are giving this book bad reviews because they hate that she kills her mother, not because the book is terrible. I felt that Helen, the main character, was very real and really just like any of us. She suffers a serious lapse in judgment and is left in a horrible circumstance of her own making. How she deals with this (and the fact that Sebold can make us feel sympathy and understanding for her), is what makes this a great story. It is dark and compelling and brilliant. She has tackled something few other authors would dare. Bravo, Alice Sebold!
Date published: 2007-12-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Hmm... I don't think so. If you're expecting something like The Lovely Bones, you will be disappointed. This new Sebold's book is OK, but she definitely has to come up with something way better next time.
Date published: 2007-11-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Garbage!!! What a disappointment!!! If you liked Lucky and Lovely don't read this, it'll leave you questioning if the other two books were actually good (I plan on re-reading Lovely once I finish this). Sebold dropped the ball here, the other two books brought me to tears, you can really empathize, but this brings you to tears because the writing is so bad. I couldn't feel for any of the charactres, and I'm only finishing it because I want to know if she somehow can save it, but I really don't think so. It's awful!
Date published: 2007-11-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting plot Although this novel strayed from my expectations as a Sebold fan, I definitely wouldn't say I was disappointed. The experiences of the main character were none I could truly identify with initially. However, I felt that Sebold exposed, beautifully, just how ones life can be altered in an instant. Again, I could not put the book down!
Date published: 2007-11-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Big Let Down I am a big fan of Alice Sebold, I loved her 2 previous books ( Lucky and The Lovely Bones ). I saw this new one and pre-ordered it, I was very excited to get into the new book, and it was a major let down. There is no real storyline, and there is a lot of repeating situations. She is happy and beside herself at the same time for killing her mother. The whole book is no real events, just how she came to kill her mother, and then she almost kills herself. I would not recommend anyone to read it.
Date published: 2007-11-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from So disappointing I cannot believe how much I was let down by this author. For one thing, I could feel absolutely zero sympathy for the character. This is normally one of Sebold's strengths - she can make you put yourself in another's shoes and recognise their flaws and appreciate their errors. This protagonist is barely recognizable as human. I could understand the whole frustration with her mother and killing her (sorry, Mum), but sleeping with the loser goof-ball son of her friend is totally misguided. I could MAYBE forgive that one action EXCEPT, Sebold returns to that character and has them repeat the act AGAIN, which totally distracts from the plot. I just didn't understand this book.
Date published: 2007-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "Family" at its most visceral It has been a very long time since I read a book I absolutely could not put down! This book jars you to the core on several levels yet there were times when I would laugh. It is top notch Sebold fare!
Date published: 2007-10-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing Because I was so transfixed by Sebold's debut novel, The Lovely Bones, I was really looking forward to reading The Almost Moon. However, I was really disappointed by this story. It's difficult to match the callibre of quality of The Lovely Bones. Sebold's characters are still mesmerizing, but the story actual plot leaves something to be desired.
Date published: 2007-10-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Unique and Yet Universal Mother-Daughter Story Written by a Master Storyteller An intelligent, generous, and essentially loving person finds herself cutting a long braid from her mother's head…having just killed her. So goes the opening scene in Alice Sebold's new book, The Almost Moon. In her newest novel, Sebold, the author of The Lovely Bones, draws us into a mother-daughter story which is at once unique and universal. In a moment of passionate desperation, Helen Knightly suffocates her mother with a bundle of towels. The murder wasn't something she planned (though heaven knows she often said to herself "I could just kill her"). Nor, as it turns out, is it something she regrets. As we become privy to the complicated emotions which characterize Helen's feelings about her mother, we come to understand the burden of having grown up with a dysfunctional mother ill-equipped for her role. Over a 24-hour period, as Helen decides exactly what to do with her mother's body, she brings us fully into her life, and to the experiences which have formed her as a full grown woman. We meet Jake, her ex-husband, who comes to help her deal with both the physical dilemma of her mother's body as well as the emotional (and life) implications of what she has done. Clearly, their marriage was a love-hate relationship but at this point it has a tenderness that almost makes one yearn for a great ex. We also come to know Helen's best friend since childhood, Natalie. The two of them are quite the duo...smart, feisty women that have the kind of bond and intimacy that can only come through years of shared life experiences. They have talked about everything...or almost everything. And we meet Alice's current lover, a twenty-something hunk who is almost a cliche, but who cares given he can generate such heat. Sebold is a master storyteller. Her prose is clean, unencumbered by excess pathos and fast paced. And her characters are both believable and engaging. This is a great read.
Date published: 2007-09-21