Being an only child can be a lot of pressure, especially when your mother is as ill as Helen's.

The Almost Moon: A Novel by Sebold, Alice [Little, Brown and Company, 2007] (Hardcover) [ Hardcover ] - Alice Sebold

The action takes place over three consecutive evenings and two days, but the narrative is filled with flashbacks to Helen's troubled childhood and the childhoods of her children, which are portrayed as happier, albeit not perfect.


Helen has a mentally ill mother for whom she cares, pouring all of her energy into making a person, incapable of gratitude, comfortable. Until one day, the first of these evenings, she stops being the care-giver and becomes someone or something else. The days are action-packed with police interviews, seductions and thoughts of suicide. There is a lot going on, but at the centre, I think, is a warning against putting your happiness and sense of self in the hands of other people.


There are some great scenes - I particularly enjoyed the strange house in the flooded town, and the tension when Helen confronts a mob of angry men. The novel was solidly written and left me with a sense of the unfairness and futility of some people's lives.