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Real Life and Liars

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,257 ratings  ·  155 reviews
Sometimes you find happiness where, and when, you least expect it.

For Mirabelle Zielinski's children, happiness always seems to be just out of reach. Her polished oldest daughter, Katya, clings to a stale marriage with a workaholic husband and three spoiled children. Her son, Ivan, so creative, is a down-in-the-dumps songwriter with the worst taste in women. An
Paperback, 337 pages
Published June 16th 2009 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published June 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,257 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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Sep 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2009
I enjoy reading books about family dynamics. Each family member has his/her own role that allows the family to function. In Real Life and Liars, Ms. Riggle explores the depth of family relationships.

The story is told by the four main characters in alternating chapters. There’s Mirabelle, the hippie, nonconformist mother; Katya, the oldest, materialistic daughter; Ivan, the insecure, middle son; and Irina, the youngest daughter without a sense of direction. The children come home for
Therese Walsh
Jun 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I’ll be honest with you–I wasn’t certain how I’d feel about Kristina Riggle’s debut novel, Real Life & Liars, because I knew the story involved the “C” word–and I don’t mean Chocolate. Cancer in a book is a hard thing for some to warm up to, especially when you’ve lost loved ones to the disease, as so many of us have. But Kristina’s novel isn’t so much about a woman coming to terms with her own mortality as realizing her tornadic impact on the world around her–and in a very short span of tim ...more
Aug 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
I read this entire book thinking "I've read this before." I didn't quit because I didn't have anything else laying around that I wanted to pick up. I checked the flyleaf and it was published in 2009, maybe I read the hardback?

Anyway, three kids (unhappy marriage, sad loner, unplanned youngest who is now unexpectedly pregnant) are coming home for their parents' 35th wedding anniversary. Little do they know that Mom has breast cancer and isn't planning on treating it. Predictably, ther
Rhonda Rae Baker
Sep 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful novel with real people and lives so true to what we deal with on a daily basis that I found myself LOL, nervous, and yet anticipating the resolution of great things for their future.

An easy read that put me in their world. I especially enjoyed the first person narrative of the mom and the third person interjections of her children. What a great way to allow the reader an inside view of what each was feeling.

I'd recommend this book to everyone, a very
Jul 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
This was just an average book about a family and their individual issues and how all the issue impacted the other people in the family. I think it is one of those books that the basic story could have turned into something really great but it just never went to that level where depth happens and readers start to say wow.
Up until the end this was going to be 4 stars, but it seemed to just drop off and end in a way that didn't really work for me. But I did enjoy the book and I liked the writing a lot. I may well look for more of her books!
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
After reading some reviews I was skeptical about this book. It was a nice read and very typical of most families. Real true to life characters.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club-books
It was interesting enough for a book club book but I hesitate to recommend it. The characters were stereotypical including the situation. I liked the setting and think she captured a lake/beach family nicely. I didn’t think I would like chapters switching between characters but it flowed well. A nice airplane read.
Debi Kyle
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous Book

I loved the flawed characters, The setting was so well described & I throughly enjoyed the complete honesty of this manuscript. Excellent! I highly recommend it to everyone.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a surprisingly good book. I could ha e sat and read it in one day if I didn’t have a few other things I had to get done😊
Story of a family and all the differences among the three siblings and the family dynamics!

This is a really really good read
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
The best part was the back story for the title- there’s real life and there are liars. How true!
May 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I sped through this one but the climax came way too late and then it was over. Beyond disappointing.
Crystelle Marie
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Nice easy quick read.
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Until the last 25% of the book, it would have been a 2 star read but toward the end I began to care more about the characters.
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely book. The characters are funny, sad, confused - just like real people. The main character just leaps from the pages. This is a "must read".
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Light, fun, and 100% predictable.
Hmm did not like this book as much as I expected..I just figured with the title there would be alot more secrets, more well drawn characters, more drama, just more..And I dont feel it lived up to my own personal hype but still I labored through just to find out what was going to happen...however you never really find out the answer to any of the storylines you really care about and it just really leaves you hanging..a great book club read as it poses many questions..Okay so the plot three childr ...more
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mira and Max Zielinski are about to celebrate their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and the grown children will soon be descending upon the family home.

As Mira contemplates their descent, she reminisces about moments in the past and about how, despite her efforts, none of them seem to share her values. For Mira, a professor, is an aging flower child, while each of her children seems to represent the antithesis of her beliefs.

Katya, Ivan, and Irina--whose names were chos
Real Life & LIars by Kristina Riggle follows Mirabelle and her husband Max as they plan to celebrate their anniversary with a party thrown by their children. Mira is just an old hippy and Max is an author who has the tendency to check out when he is working on a project.
Their children Van, Katya and Irina are as different as can be and often clash but then come back together in a circle of dysfunctional family love.
The day of the party arrives and with it comes major upheaval in
Laura de Leon
Jul 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, lm-book-club
I really enjoyed reading this book, and then talking about it at our book club meeting.

The strength of this book was in the characters. Each one had an aspect I identified with. Each also had something about them that made me want to slap them upside the head. Some were closer to one part of this than the other. They were all wonderfully complicated.

Mirabelle is the hippy mom that tried very hard to impart her values (forcing non-conformity!) on her oldest child, but rela
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I adored Real Life & Liars, the first novel by's fiction coeditor, Kristina Riggle. The novel takes place over the course of a weekend, when Mira Zielinski's three grown children come home to celebrate their parents' wedding anniversary. I loved all the characters, from the knowing but flawed Mira, her distracted novelist husband Max, and then their three kids: Katya, a suburban mother of three who, as Mira puts it, "drags [her younger siblings:] along under the wheels of he ...more
Rafal Szymanski
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
I did not finish the book (got up to 73%), but feel confident in giving a review. I'm not entirely sure how this book ended up in my Kindle collection, but the only way it would have is via some recommendation I would have found online – unfortunately I didn't find the book appealing at all, and am curious as to where I got this recommended.

The book follows three children who go on to visit their parents on their 35th wedding anniversary. For a book with "Real Life" in its title, I f
Aug 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not too bad. Not a favorite by any means but a good read.

OVERVIEW: Sometimes you find happiness where, and when, you least expect it.

For Mirabelle Zielinski's children, happiness always seems to be just out of reach. Her polished oldest daughter, Katya, clings to a stale marriage with a workaholic husband and three spoiled children. Her son, Ivan, so creative, is a down-in-the-dumps songwriter with the worst taste in women. And the "baby," impulsive Irina, who li
Marilyn Pettigrove
Mar 21, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is an average one in my estimation. I looked forward to reading it because it is Michigan author from my area and I recognized people and places in her acknowledgements. I also generally like family dynamic books. It was written from four character views. It is written around a 35th weeding anniversary and a family crisis.
As I read this I found myself irritated. I simply didn't like the characters. They were often entitled acting and passing that on to the next generation with their a
Jenny Gendel
Sep 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An excellent debut. I recieved my copy a couple of years ago from ALA in Chicago. Real Life and Liars, is more than a just title. The book deals with a family coming together for a family reunion, focusing on 4 charicters in the family. The mother, and her three children. Each has a secret, and is afraid of the reaction and retibution from others. As the secrets boil to the surface and things change, the family struggles with the lies that they tell themselves, and the faces they put on for othe ...more
Sep 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009september
Real Life & Liars tries hard not to be emblazoned with a "chick lit" tag. It's about Important Stuff, like Cancer, Family, Unplanned Pregnancy (and just a tiny bit of Love).

But for all it's trying, it's just another book about a not-quite-dysfunctional family whose problems are not-quite real.

For that, it's an enjoyable enough read. The characters are a little quirky -- not TOO quirky, of course, just enough to make you notice. And the book is a little funny -- but not TOO funny
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book told from 4 viewpoints from the same family: the mother and her 3 grown up kids (Katya, Ivan, and Irina). It's set in MI (the Russian names are just from a phase of the flower-child mother's.) All of the characters have obnoxious things about them, or traits that clash with the others' but these are believable characters and it's interesting to see how they view themselves since you get the switching off viewpoints. good story about family relationships. I really like th ...more
Oct 04, 2012 rated it liked it
This novel is told from three perspectives: Mirabelle, a middle-aged hippie mom who's just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and two of her adult children - Katya, struggling to live the perfect life with a successful husband and kids, and Van, an aimless musician. When the family (along with wayward youngest daughter Irina and her surprise new husband) comes together for the parents' 35th anniversary party, everyone's problems and secrets explode into the light. I liked this book, and thought it was a g ...more
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Real Life and Liars is the story of a family's weekend celebration of the parents' 35th wedding anniversary. The mother has recently found out she has breast cancer but doesn't want her children to know until after the anniversary party. Her three adult children and their families are there, and the events of the weekend affect how they react to their mother's news and how she plans to deal with the cancer when they finally find out. I enjoyed this book tremendously - you'd think it would be qui ...more
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Kristina Riggle lives in West Michigan, where she writes character-driven novels about complex personal dynamics. Her debut novel, Real Life & Liars, was a Target "Breakout" pick and a "Great Lakes, Great Reads" selection by the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. Her latest novel, Vivian in Red, is a story of 1930s Broadway and today about a lyricist, the clouded history of his m ...more