Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Fiction Review: Apples Never Fall

Despite her huge popularity, including TV adaptations that have been massive hits, Liane Moriarty is a fairly new author for me. I have previously read just one of her novels, Truly Madly Guilty, for the 2020 Big Book Summer Challenge. I loved that novel, with its combination of gripping suspense and richly developed characters, so when I saw she had a new release out, Apples Never Fall, I was eager to give it a try. I listened to the novel on audio for the fall R.I.P. Challenge and found it just as intriguing and suspenseful as the last one I read. This is a unique in-depth story of a family falling apart and the missing mother at the center of it.

At first, when Joy Delaney, a woman in her 60's, goes missing, her four adult children aren't too worried. Sure, they can't get through to her on her cell phone, but she did leave a text message, rather cryptically, saying something about going off-grid. However, as the days, then weeks, tick by, they do become concerned ... and so do the police. As the police begin their investigation, the narrative in the novel moves back and forth from the present, with Joy missing, to the past, in the year before her disappearance. Through these descriptions of the events leading up to Joy's disappearance, including flashbacks to the children's childhoods, the reader gradually gets a picture of the Delaney family. Joy and her husband, Stan, ran a successful tennis school for decades that was an integral part of family life. All four of the kids played--and were quite good--though they each took a different path as adults. Amy has struggled with depression and other mental health issues, as well as debilitating migraines, since she was a child and, even now as the oldest sibling, is just sort of floating through life. Logan is similarly a bit at loose ends. Younger brother, Troy, though, is a huge success as a day trader, living in a luxurious high-rise apartment with a stunning view, though still crushed by his wife's recent departure from his life (which he hasn't shared with his family yet). The youngest sibling, Brooke, has also recently broken up with her long-time boyfriend and not told her family. She's a physical therapist who recently started her own practice. The four adult siblings are each living their own lives, as Joy and Stan struggle with both their empty nest and the absence of their tennis business, now that they are retired. The detectives delve into all of the family members, and especially Stan who seems less than forthcoming with them, but there's the added complication of a mysterious stranger named Savannah who showed up on Joy and Stan's doorstep the year before. What happened to Joy Delaney? Did she decide she needed a break and didn't tell her family? Or was it something more sinister?

As you can probably tell from this description, this is an intricate family drama, as well as a suspenseful mystery. Through both flashbacks and present-day action and conversations, the reader gradually gets to know each of the Delaneys and his or her role in the family dynamics. Of course, there are secrets and lies to be discovered--this is Liane Moriarty, after all! And throughout it all is the thread of the police investigation into Joy's disappearance. What is Stan hiding? What do the kids know? What, if anything, does Savannah have to do with all of this? It's an engrossing and twisty family saga, digging into the details of sibling relationships and long-time marriage, all wrapped up in a mystery. I listened to the novel on audio and thoroughly enjoyed the Australian narrator who brought me into the center of the story and kept me guessing until the very end.

480 pages, Henry Holt and Company

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible. It was excellent!


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  1. Great review, I also very much enjoyed this.

    1. Glad to hear it, Shelley! I did, too.

  2. I liked both Moriarty novels that I've read, but for some reason have picked this one up yet. Thank you for the review, which has made me more intrigued.

    1. I've only read one before this, but I enjoyed this one, too!