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Book Review – Truly Madly Guilty

This is gonna be a short review because I literally don’t want to waste another second on this book…

What a slow burn with zero pay off. This book was full of boring characters with boring lives and boring stories that all blended together into one insipid cocktail. 

I was ridiculously disappointed. 

I got this book in my Cozy Reader Club August 2016 box and expected it to be this great read. This amazing novel I could curl up in bed with. But it wasn’t that at all. I’m curious if the Cozy Reader Club curators even read the novel. Surely they wouldn’t have recommended it if they had. 

It was demanding. Only because it was so boring you had to force yourself to sit down and read it. Clench your teeth and breathe through the pain. 

Truly Madly Guilty follows three families as they recover from a neighborhood barbecue in which something unspeakable happened and try to piece back together the people they were before. 

I feel like the author, Liane Moriarity, just wanted so badly to write a novel in the tune of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, but couldn’t master the art of keeping a secret without it feeling completely forced. Because that’s what it felt like. It felt like these people were deliberately keeping the secret to themselves and hanging it over our heads. And I didn’t feel this desire to find out was the secret was. Because the people were so boring, I sort of figured it was gonna be boring.

And when I FINALLY got to the big reveal I was like… THAT’S IT??? That’s the big secret everyone is totally in shambles over? What the fuck.

And if that’s not bad enough. After the big reveal happens, there are two hundred pages more with useless information about people I didn’t really care about and moments that weren’t big enough to make me ever come around. 

I wish the last two reveals had come sooner and the author had just condensed the four hundred pages into two-fifty. So many useless side stories and plots. 

I feel like at least fifty pages of the novel were made up of her grandiose adjectives. Liane writes with so many adjectives, large, glamorous words that slow down the writing and make it sound chunky. It didn’t feel like personably. It didn’t feel relatable. Each character sounded the same with Liane’s prose and they got swept up in her large words. They were all flat and dull, negating Vin, who was somewhat lively, and Tiffany, who had some qualities I liked. They were ugly, hard to understand, and easy to hate. 

She quite liked this aspect of her personality: the way her mood could change from melancholy to euphoric because of a breeze or a flavor or a beautiful chord progression. It meant she never had to feel too down about feeling down. “Man, you’re a strange girl, it’s like you’re on drugs,” her brother Brian once said to her.

Why did Liane even name the brother? This is the first and only time we hear about him. 

He and Clementine were like people arriving at a wake after a funeral, ready to unloosen ties and let the tension drain from their shoulders, desperate to eat and drink and remind themselves that they were alive.

I can’t deny the quality of Liane’s writing. She crafted the story well, it was just unimagined and fell very flat. It was like a dead-line. It never beat. The heart of it was stopped from the moment the book started and it never revived itself. Not even once. 

That was Erika’s experience of fatherhood: the solid, silent weight of someone else’s dad’s hand on her shoulder.

There were some good moments like this where you really related, but not enough. Not enough. And it was tiring to wade through everything else to get to these parts where you finally found yourself caring for the character. But then of course that one line couldn’t make up the whole chapter and the rest of that chapter you were just shaking your head like when is this going to end. 

She wondered if she was doing this on purpose. This was what her mother did. She threw people off balance for the pleasure of watching them wobble. It was fun.

This was, like, one of the only moments where I realized these were real people and not robots. There was a great lack of normalcy. And I felt that their reactions were completely inhuman, their emotions completely non-relatable. Give us the passion. Give us something we can believe in. 

Not impressed. I’m so amazed I actually pushed through and finished this book. I wanted to report that it had some redeemable qualities, but it didn’t. 



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