#244 ~ Real Life & Liars

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

My Review

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 BooksDebutante 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!


  • At 2010.03.29 07:02, Sandy said:

    I guess we know this, but reading it and having it confirmed makes me a little tired! I just pray that someday my argumentative son and moody daughter will be contributing members of society. Ugh!

    • At 2010.03.29 09:29, Kay said:

      Thanks for highlighting this book. It really sounds like something I would enjoy and I had not heard about it before. Having a grown child is interesting and quite a challenge. I think I thought that once our girl was grown, we would be done. Not so much! She’s a dear but it’s hard to keep one’s mouth shut when choices are made that seem unwise. Well, in any case, I’ll see if my library has this one and if not, I’ll see if I can order it. Again, thanks for the headsup! Glad you found a book that has a bit of home.

      • At 2010.03.29 09:42, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

        Why didn’t someone tell me parenting doesn’t end when they graduate from high school before I had a kid? Just kidding! I love reading a book that’s set in a place that’s familiar to me, so I’m glad you were able to experience that. This sounds good to me!

        Read more from bermudaonion (Kathy)

        The Week in Review: 02.23.2018

        Between the Covers Finished last week: SOLO by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess is the story of Blade Morrison, the son of Rutherford Morrison an old rocker past his prime.  Blade’s beloved […]

        • At 2010.03.29 10:57, softdrink said:

          Italy has a boot, and Michigan has a mitten. That’s just so…cute. 😀

          I like reading about CA, unless it’s LA. Blech. But I like books set in Oregon even more, even though I only lived there for 5 years.

          • At 2010.03.29 14:06, Lisa said:

            The cover of this one has appealed to me since I first saw it but now you’ve really convinced me that this is a book to pick up for more than the cover.

            • At 2010.03.29 14:57, A Bookshelf Monstrosity said:

              This book has been sitting on my shelf for about six months. I need to get around to reading it already!

              • At 2010.04.02 19:42, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

                Yay, I’m so glad you liked this, I loved it and I like Kristina Riggle, I can’t WAIT to read her new book this summer. I’ve actually read a bunch of books set in Michigan lately it seems – at least two books set in Ann Arbor in February. I’ve had a pretty good experience reading Illinois authors, we’ve got some great ones here!

                Read more from Jen – Devourer of Books

                Linny’s Sweet Dreams List by Susan Schild

                Linny’s Sweet Dream List was one of the very first queries I got when started agenting. The writing sample had voice coming out its ears so I requested th[…]

                (Required, will not be published)

                %d bloggers like this: