A mother disappears and a family’s secrets are revealed

In Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty the story is about a family where winning is so important that it has skewed their lives and relationships. Joy and Stan have a tennis school and four children. Their whole life revolves around tennis. As the book progresses we understand how the need to win or to compete has determined their choices in life and their relationships with one another.

One day Joy disappears. No one knows where she has gone and she has sent a text message to her children which makes no sense. Each member of the family reacts differently to her absence and we also see the family dynamics through the eyes of people they meet in their everyday life such as a server at the coffee shop or a hairdresser. The family think that the disappearance is in some way related to the arrival of a distressed young woman at the door some months ago. Joy had taken her in and Savannah had become a vital part of Stan and Joy’s life. The book then proceeds with alternating chapters set after Joy has disappeared with chapters set in the past and dealing with Savannah. The book switches viewpoints between the family members and the police as well as including some onlookers – Savannah doesn’t get her own point of view until the very end of the book.

I loved this book. I thought that the way that the author told the story helped me to understand all the characters, but especially Joy, very well. I liked the external opinions and the views of the police. The book gives a lot of detail of the lives of the family and it is only as the story progresses that you realise that virtually everything you have been told, although it may only seem like a passing comment, is important. Everything fits into place until we know what happened to Joy and why Savannah chose their family as well as understanding why each member of the family behaves as they do. It felt very satisfying as all the pieces you had gathered slotted into place.

The author chose to continue the book after the main facts are known and I thought that that part of the book was less successful, although it did tie up a few more loose ends. I also thought that the revelation at the end didn’t really fit with the tone of the rest of the book – it jarred me and I didn’t find it believable. I don’t think that this really mattered, however, because I enjoyed the rest of the book so much.

This is good storytelling which engages and rewards the reader and was a very entertaining read.

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