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The Almost Moon

2.68  ·  Rating details ·  32,729 ratings  ·  5,398 reviews
A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this searing portrait of a to-the-death struggle between a mother and a daughter.

Clair Knightly and her daughter Helen are locked in a relationship so unrelenting that it has sucked the air out of both of their lives. And as this electrifying novel opens, Helen crosses a boundary she never dreamt she would even approach.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published by Picador USA (first published October 16th 2007)
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Gary Guinn I would say that Sebold did connect all the details, but she did it in such a way--especially thinking of the constant movement from present to…moreI would say that Sebold did connect all the details, but she did it in such a way--especially thinking of the constant movement from present to past--that the reader had to stay focused on the narrative. At times the reader had to perceive the implications of the actions of other characters, especially her father and mother in the past, to understand Helen's current motivations.(less)

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Jan 24, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jumped-ship
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
Jan 11, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helen Knightly, l’io narrante, esordisce così al primo rigo:
Alla fin fine, ammazzare mia madre mi è venuto facile.

Devo dire che Alice Sebold mi ha abituato a incipit che non si perdono in giri di parole, incipit fulminanti e senza preamboli.

Frederic Leighton: Elettra sulla tomba di Agamennone. 1869 (collezione privata).

C’è odio nel gesto di Helen. Ma anche amore. E, forse, perfino pietas. Per la madre, e, finalmente, verso se stessa.
L’anziana era una donna bella e affascinante:
Sep 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 24, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hated
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 05, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 [].)

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
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.
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sara (sarawithoutanH)
Mar 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Before I start this, let me just say that Alice Sebold’s writing style is not the problem. This is a definite example of how good writing does not always equal a good novel. The writing was compelling enough that I did not DNF this book. But, in my opinion, the plot itself was absurd. I am shocked that this is from the same author who wrote The Lovely Bones. I’ve never read TLB, but I’ve known many people who have cited it as a great book, or even their favorite book. This book feels like it cam ...more
Oct 31, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 27, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
J. Kent Messum
I enjoyed this novel, though not as much as Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones'. I didn't think it was stellar, but I thought it was solid. A lot of people took a massive shit on this book because they disliked Helen's character so much... but you know what? There are lots of ugly characters in the world, and they are far more believable than the fictional heroes and heroines we blindly champion because they offer us no incentive to wake up and smell the coffee.

I like REAL characters, offensive or othe
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Alla fin fine, ammazzare mia madre mi è venuto facile”.

Con un incipit così traumatizzante comincia la storia di Helen, figlia di una madre psichicamente instabile (aggravata da una vecchiaia demente) e portatrice di un debordante sentimento di odio-amore che viene via esplicitato, capito e giustificato dalla storia che Helen stessa ripercorre.
Voce disperatamente lucida, voce pulsionale che produce gesti agiti direttamente dall’inconscio, voce che si spezza, si arrampica, si arrotola su di sé e
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Nov 25, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gary Guinn
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.”
How’s that for an opening line? Helen’s mother needed killing, and Helen was just the person to do it. Except she wasn’t.
Sebold’s second novel, The Almost Moon, is the story of fifty-two-year-old Helen, whose father committed suicide when she was a teenager, and her spontaneous act of mercy/revenge on her eighty-year-old mother and the chaos that follows. Helen’s ex-husband, her two adult daughters, her best friend since childhood, and
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-favorite-read
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
Dec 02, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 31, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I always want to REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY like her books, but this one was just "eh."
Aug 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely disturbing, which is usually the category my favorite books fall under. Helen, the narrator, opens the book by describing how she's killed her aging, mentally ill mother. The rest of the narrative goes back and forth with Helen dealing with the shock that she actually did this and how she will proceed with her life after, and examining the life events in her dysfunctional, complicated family that led her to this point. Helen appears to be determined to keep doing things that will shoc ...more
Alissa Patrick
This book was beyond odd. I always felt weird about The Lovely Bones as well, which is by the same author. This main character, Helen, is a borderline sociopath, and it was hard to relate to her, or feel any sympathy for her.

She comes from a terrible childhood and is now trying to take care of her agoraphobic mother who has onset dementia. Helen makes a sudden decision that will affect not only her life but her entire familys', and she spends the next 24 hours reflecting on her past.

It was a b
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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).

“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.” 57 likes
“Poison and medicine are often the same thing, given in different proportions” 20 likes
More quotes…