Real Life & Liars by Kristina Riggle
Published by: Avon A
Published on: June 16, 2009
Page Count: 327
Genre: General Fiction
Format: Signed paperback ~ birthday present sent to me by my best friend (thanks so much, Trista!)
Availability: paperback and eBook
Parenting doesn’t end when your children graduate from high school and leave the house. Mira knows this from experience. She is a middle-aged college professor and mother of three grown children. Her oldest, Katya, is by all appearances a successful wife, mother, and business woman, but something is off in her “perfect world.” Ivan, her only son and middle child, is a struggling song-writer who is unhappy with job as a teacher and unlucky in love. Irina, her youngest daughter, has come home after a quick and unconventional marriage. The lives of all three children are coming to a head when they arrive together at their childhood home to celebrate their parents’ 35 wedding anniversary. As if their lives aren’t complicated enough, Mira has shocking news of her own and the children are not going to like the decisions she’s making as a result.
Mira lives in Cheboygan, Michigan, which is near the top of the mitten. It tickled me to death to read that. I don’t read a lot of fiction set in Michigan. Unlike California, Paris, London, or New York, it’s not the most common fictional setting. The last novel I remember reading set in Michigan was Middlesex, which I read in 2007. It’s been a while. I know what Michigan lakeside towns are like and I could picture myself there very clearly. For me, there’s just something special about reading about home, even if it’s not my hometown.
What I loved the most about this novel were the little touches that say so much about the characters. Mira had an obsession with Russia, so she named all of her children with Russian names, an interesting contrast with their Polish last name. The scenes that show how battles over clothing shift from the daughter’s choices to the mother’s choices over time also stand out to me. This novel made me reflect on how your children are going to live their own lives. Mira and her husband raised their children with the values that they felt were important. Instead of embracing those values, they sparked battles during childhood and even embarrassment at times in adulthood. No matter how hard you try to do what you feel is right, your children will have different ideas.
My best friend gave this novel to me for my birthday last year and it was the perfect touch. It is a little taste of home written by an author who grew up in my own backyard. More than that, it was an interesting story that kept me reading intently. It is a substantive novel about the lives women as they age. Real Life & Liars is Kristine Riggle’s first novel and I look forward to following her career as she grows as a writer.
This review of a book by a Michigan author is part of GalleySmith’s Literary Road Trip. When Michelle began this challenge, I eagerly signed up for my home state. I only wish it hadn’t taken me so long to read and review a Michigan author. I’m looking forward to my next literary road trip home.
Do you like to read about your home state? What’s been your experience reading home state authors?
Although I’m not an official participant in Devourer of Books and S. Krishna Books‘ Debutante Ball Reading Challenge, this book qualifies for that challenge. Kristina Riggle was a Deb last year. If you’re a part of this challenge or have been thinking about it, I would strongly suggest that you read this novel. Actually, I would strongly suggest it to any reader. LOL!