The Almost Moon
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The Almost Moon

2.64 of 5 stars 2.64  ·  rating details  ·  25,269 ratings  ·  4,555 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 16th 2007 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kendra
I wanted to believe that the backlash against this book could be explained by general disappointment about Sebold's second novel not living up to The Lovely Bones. Um, yeah. Not only did it not measure up, but I don't even want this book in the same ROOM with my other books. It really and truly is that bad. I tried, people. I tried. But when I spent 4 hours on a plane learning how to do Sodoku just so I wouldn't have to read one more heinous word of this novel, I knew that I was going to have to...more
Rhian
Horrible, horrible, horrible. Bad in every way: terrible sentences, dreadful unbelievable characters, boring story. Includes this line, "This was not the first time I had been face-to-face with my mother's genitalia." Her genitalia has a FACE!!!! Downhill from there.
Rita
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Monty
I couldn't put this book down so I read it in two days. What I especially liked about the book was how the author used stream of consciousness thinking (flash backs)to explain the thoughts and actions of the main character during a 24 hour period just before and after she kills her demented mother. Also, as unreal as the events seem in the this story, they stem from the main character (who grew up in a disturbed family) making some minor poor choices under stress, then making a major poor choice...more
Ann
Dec 05, 2007 Ann rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any Fiction Lover
When I read The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold’s bestselling first novel, I thought, now what? What does an author write after that? How could she possibly top this novel?

Three short years later Alice follows with a realistic, maybe too real, new novel, The Almost Moon, that promises to ease its way up the bestseller list in a short time. In what seems to be Ms. Sebold’s tradition, The Almost Moon is a dark tale, not a cozy quick read. This story voices some of the worst emotions and fears one coul...more
Jason Pettus
(My full review of this book is much longer than GoodReads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].)

I freely admit it; that as a man, there are sometimes things that women do that utterly baffle me, and will probably continue to baffle me until the day I freaking die, just like it is with women regarding men. And that's because, avoiding any kind of qualitative judgment, I think we can all agree that there are fundamen...more
Leanna
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caroline
This was just not worth the effort it took to get through it, at all. I could have gotten over the main character murdering her mother (which is within the first sentence, so don't panic about being spoiled) if she weren't so unpleasant in every other respect. First she murders her mother, and then she goes on to do other things that are just as cringe-worthy.

I also could have gotten past how horrible a person Helen was...if they novel had any kind of point at all. I kept reading in hopes that i...more
Juliet
I made it to around 60 pages before I chucked it across the room. Horrible horrible horrible all over the place, pathetic writing with sad, unlikeable characters.
Anne
In 2003, my brother bought me Alice Sebold's first novel, The Lovely Bones, for Christmas. I was into it from the first page, and I couldn't help crying my eyes out. Later, I read her memoir, Lucky. I didn't think it was quite as well done, but it was about a very powerful topic, and it gave me some respect for where Sebold had come from and how much she had overcome. So, I eagerly anticipated getting this one from the long library waiting list. The Almost Moon tackles the difficult subject of...more
Carin
Sebold has a gift for poetic tone and thoughtful metaphor. I love how you're just toodling along, reading away, and suddenly, BAM! she hits you with something like: "She looked up at me and smiled. 'Bitch,' she said. The thing about dementia is that sometimes you feel like the afflicted person has a trip wire to the truth, as if they can see beneath the skin you hide in."
Or: "I got her standing with ease, but once she was upright, she collapsed in my arms. It was all I could do not to drop her,...more
Leslie
This book was extremely disturbing. The main character is introduced as seemly a normal woman whose elderly mother is entering her final years and at the stage of facing a nursing home or care facility. Even after she kills her mother, she tells the story as if this is just sort of a bummer day, almost, "Oh my gosh, I killed my mother. I don't want to be late for work." Ironically, I was even lulled into moments where I was not completely horrified at what just happened--and continues to happen...more
Laila
I should preface this by saying that I have never read a book with an accumulative star rating this low before. It also confirms that star ratings are ridiculous - or maybe that one star ratings are compliments in disguise.

Can someone explain to me why a story has to have likable characters? Why someone who is clearly loosing it should act in a way a sane reader finds believable? I'm pretty sure when I read fight club I didn't think I would act that way... but she's a woman, so she has to be in...more
Lorraine
THE ALMOST MOON is a brave book by a courageous writer. After the phenomenal success of THE LOVELY BONES, Alice Sebold could have chosen to write a sophomore novel in which she once again gave readers a sympathetic, utterly likable narrator like Susie Salmon. Instead, she writes through the voice of Helen Knightly, and Helen tells the reader, right from the beginning, that liking her is going to be a challenge:

When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily. Dementia, as it descends, ha...more
Kellie
I am very troubled by this book. First, I found it so unnerving that someone could write about killing their mother. What kind of person does that? Well, I googled on Alice Sebold to find out and discovered that Ms. Sebold was brutally raped while attending college at Syracuse University. I believe that this brutal act of violence may be the catalyst that has caused Ms. Sebold to teeter on a violent edge that few authors dare to go. This book is about and told through the voice of Helen. Helen g...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Apr 29, 2014 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Hooked by Title and Cover
Seems like a lot of people hated this book… I'm not one of them. There’s mental illness in my family so I appreciated the author giving a voice to how the day-to-day living with someone with a mental disorder impacts every person they touch. Wickedly funny and really well written, Sebold has a great lyrical style, paints her characters so real they breathe; I empathized. Admittedly the author leaves a lot of loose ends but I didn’t have a problem with that, enjoy a story that isn’t all tied up i...more
Michelle
Let me start off by saying that I love Alice Sebold. 'Lucky' and 'Lovely Bones' were two books that stayed with me long after I finished them.

That being said, I hate to say that 'Almost Moon' was such a disappointment to me. I had read all the bad reviews of it and thought 'It can't be that bad.' Unfortunately, it was.

Was it because the story was about an unsympathetic narrator who kills her aged mother in the first chapter? Perhaps.

The rest of the story unfolds as Helen both revisits memories...more
Lain
This is one of the worst books I've read in a long time. Not because the writing is poor -- in fact, just the opposite. Sebold is such a talented writer that what she's done with this book is nothing short of a travesty.

Am I supposed to feel sorry for Helen, the daughter of a mentally ill mother she ends up killing in her old age? There isn't enough hurt and anguish in her for me to believe she did so out of long-simmering rage. Am I supposed to feel outraged at the brutality of the act? Clair i...more
Alison
Jan 03, 2008 Alison rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: noone
I picked up "Almost Moon" because I am a Sebold fan. Like most of the reviews I have read, I loved "Lucky" and "The Lovely Bones". In both of these books there was the beautiful and inspiring as well as the ugly and devastating. Almost Moon is a whole other thing. It contains only the ugly and devastating.

The subject of this book is Helen, who quickly suffocates her mother in the first chapter, and takes the rest of the book to explain her actions, never becomes sympathetic. Instead, It only bec...more
Yennie
Have a healthy relationship with your parents? Then you probably won't relate to Helen, the protagonist who confesses to killing her mother in the first sentence of the novel. Alice Sebold doesn't expect you to understand what Helen has done-- even Helen doesn't quite understand it fully. Effort and compassion is needed just to start understanding the complexities of this mother-daughter relationship, and Sebold does a beautiful job exploring that aspect of an act that society condemns in a knee...more
Kate
I got to page 100 when I realized I was not going to finish it. I don't know why I lasted that long. It is a very strange book, and the topic (going mad) is better covered elsewhere. At least, that's what I think the topic is. I was constantly confused who was who in the book. Was the narrator talking about a daughter, a sister, or a best friend? Was the man mentioned the father or his son who had the same name? Whatever. I'm looking for something else to read.
Debbie
Disturbing. Probable yet improbable. Quirky. Curious. Eerie.

As I first started getting into this my initial thought was that this was so absurd that I actually laughed. But when I thought about this premise more closely I realized it's not absurd at all. Just browse past any of the various true crime cable channels or even prime time nightly news stories and it will be affirmed that this story is not only disturbingly probable but could have been lifted or adapted from one of these re-enacted a...more
Carrie
I always want to REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY like her books, but this one was just "eh."
Christy
Wow. What a bleak, creepy disappointment. I can't believe I waited on a list at the library to read this travesty. I mean, the narrator comes right out at the beginning and tells us that she's murdered her poor mother. Then we get a depressing series of disjointed flashbacks that I forced myself to trudge through, hoping for some kind of redemption in the end. It never happened.
Diane
I LOVED: The Lovely Bones, and although several people told me that this book was totally bizarre, I had to read it and judge for myself.

Once I began Almost Moon, I could not put it down. I could understand how a 49 year old woman, a product of a dysfunctional, mentally ill family, could snap under extreme pressure and murder her elderly mother who suffered from dementia. This dark, serious novel, made me smile on more than one occasion by the author's use of clever writing techniques. I loved t...more
Diana
There is a line people do not cross. Helen Knightly, middle-aged divorced mother of two and caretaker of her chronically mentally-ill elderly mother, Clair, crosses it more than once in this unnerving and haunting twenty-four hour narrative. In effort to clean away the acrid scent of her mother soiling herself, Helen wraps Clair in blankets, sickly thinking, "Super Giant Mother Burrito," takes her out on the porch and instead smothers her with a towel.

Alice Sebold, author of reader-acclaimed nov...more
Joy H.
Added 3/9/09
The suspense kept me reading. I wanted to know how it ended. To say it's about a mother-daughter relationship doesn't really convey the sense of the book. It's really a suspense story.

4/13/13 - Addendum
I recently found the following quote among my hand-written notes. I had copied the quote from the book while reading:
======================================
p. 204: "The moon is whole all the time, but we can't always see it. What we see is an almost moon. The rest is hiding out of view,...more
Anya
I am a bit at a loss as to what opinion to profess about this book. Some people claim Sebold has gone over the top, exaggerated the violence far too much (looking at you there M! ;) while others state Sebold's typical writing style is as raw and bold as before.

First things first. I am grateful for that Sebold seems to have outgrown her ridiculous comparisons. In "The Lovely Bones" I came across a couple of over-exaggerated expressions and comparisons (mostly of the way a character's eyes looked...more
Lex Larson
Oct 28, 2007 Lex Larson rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: vacuous coworkers
I'm currently reading this book and feel compelled to comment on it before I finish it. I am reading this book literally back-to-back with The Lovely Bones -- which I enjoyed enough to look into Sebold's other books -- but I find myself dismayed (disappointed?) with it.

Sebold has repeated imagery used in The Lovely Bones, practically verbatim. She's also reused surnames of characters. Initially I assumed this was to make some sort of callback to The Lovely Bones, implying this Stolfutz fellow w...more
Ralph
Sep 22, 2008 Ralph rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who would sleep at a showing of "Springtime for Hitler"
I have to laugh at the negative reviews of Sebold's Lovely Bones, the comments that Sebold intentionally pulls at the heartstrings of her readers. This book will definitely disprove that. It deserves a serious "WTF." Maybe she was inspired by Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, there are a few similarities. After a powerful first chapter, the book goes completely off the rails. Even knowing what to expect from Sebold's NPR interview, I don't expect to finish this one. It is too sick and disgusting.

B...more
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The Almost Moon is out in paperback 3 41 Dec 23, 2008 07:40PM  
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Alice Sebold is an American writer. She has published three books: Lucky (1999), The Lovely Bones (2002), and The Almost Moon (2007).

More about Alice Sebold...
The Lovely Bones Lucky The Best American Short Stories 2009 The Lovely Bones & Looking Glass The Almost Moon

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“The moon is whole all the time, but we can’t always see it. What we see is an almost moon or not-quite moon. The rest is hiding just out of view, but there’s only one moon, so we follow it in the sky. We plan our lives based on its rhythms and tides.” 58 likes
“Poison and medicine are often the same thing, given in different proportions” 12 likes
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