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13 / 30 books. 43% done!

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35 / 51 states. 69% done!

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74 / 104 books. 71% done!

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50 / 52 books. 96% done!

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84 / 165 books. 51% done!
Monday, December 06, 2021

Moriarty Hits It Out of the Ballpark (er, Tennis Court?) With Newest Mystery/Family Drama

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As the long-time owners of a prestigious tennis school, Joy and Stan Delaney have coached a number of champions. Their own four children are, however, not among them. While Amy, Brooke, Troy, and Logan all became competent players, none of them quite had what it took to go all the way with the sport. Disappointing, yes, but the Delaney kids have found other ways to be successful adults. And now, with the closing of Delaneys Tennis Academy, 69-year-old Joy and 70-year-old Stan are looking forward to retirement and, most importantly, grandchildren. If the dynamic duo is having a little trouble transitioning from managing a thriving tennis school full of energetic young athletes to finding purpose at home in an empty, ignored nest their busy chicks rarely visit, well, that's understandable. 

When their mother goes missing one day out of the blue, Amy, Brooke, Troy, and Logan are shocked. It's not like dependable Joy to flit off without telling anyone where she's going. Sure, she sent them all a garbled, mystifying text, but now she's not answering her phone. Then there's Stan, who's acting cagey, saying he's too busy to be disturbed. Where could Joy possibly be? And why is her husband behaving so oddly? Could he have...done something? Or does Joy's strange disappearance have to do with Savannah Pagonis, the evasive young stranger who's been staying with Joy and Stan despite their children's protestations?

Knowing the police will automatically suspect their father if they file a missing persons report, Amy, Brooke, Troy, and Logan try to figure things out themselves. Combing over their shared family history provides clues as well as enlightening—and disturbing—insights into dynamics that may well have led to an unthinkable crime...

Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty's 2014 bestseller, introduced lots of delighted readers (including me) to this talented Australian writer. I proceeded to read—and love—all of her previous novels. Her next two, though? Meh. Since Moriarty has been so off her game, I was hesitant to pick up her newest, Apples Never Fall. When I was offered an ARC, though, I couldn't resist. I mean, c'mon, it's Liane Moriarty! And guess what? I shouldn't have been worried because the author hit it out of the ballpark (er, tennis court?) with this one. Yes, Apples Never Fall is different from her other books, but it's got that old Moriarty spark that I have been sorely missing. Her trademark wit and sharp insight infuse this family drama, coating it with warmth, humor, and poignancy. The characters are complex and flawed, which makes them all the more likable (even when they're not). Plot-wise, the story has plenty of twists to keep things interesting. I was feeling very smug toward the end, thinking I had everything figured out and, boy, was I wrong! I'm so glad I was because the book's finale delighted me to no end. I know Apples Never Fall has gotten mixed reviews from Moriarty noobs and dedicated fans alike, but for me, it's a hit. In fact, besides Big Little Lies, it might be my favorite Moriarty novel of them all. I adored it.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other books by Liane Moriarty)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, mild sexual content, and some disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Apples Never Fall from the generous folks at Henry Holt in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

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