Synopses & Reviews
In The Rest of Her Life
, Laura Moriarty delivers a luminous, compassionate, and provocative look at how mothers and daughters with the best intentions can be blind to the harm they do to one another.
Leigh is the mother of high-achieving, popular high school senior Kara. Their relationship is already strained for reasons Leigh does not fully understand when, in a moment of carelessness, Kara makes a mistake that ends in tragedy the effects of which not only divide Leigh's family, but polarize the entire community. We see the story from Leigh's perspective, as she grapples with the hard reality of what her daughter has done and the devastating consequences her actions have on the family of another teenage girl in town, all while struggling to protect Kara in the face of rising public outcry.
Like the best works of Jane Hamilton, Jodi Picoult, and Alice Sebold, Laura Moriarty's The Rest of Her Life is a novel of complex moral dilemma, filled with nuanced characters and a page-turning plot that makes readers ask themselves, "What would I do?"
"Moriarty's follow-up to book-group favorite The Center of Everything again explores a tense, fragile mother-daughter relationship, this time finding sharper edges where personal history and parenting meet. Now a junior high school English teacher married to a college professor, Leigh has spent much of her adult life trying to distance herself from her dysfunctional childhood. Raising their two children in a small, safe Kansas town not far from where Leigh and her troubled sister, Pam, were raised by their single mother, Leigh finds her good fortune still somewhat empty. Daughter Kara, 18 and a high school senior, is distant; sensitive younger son Justin is unpopular; Leigh can't seem to reach either-Kara in particular sees Leigh (rightly) as self-absorbed. When Kara accidentally hits and kills another high school girl with the family's car, Leigh is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her daughter, her resentment toward her husband (who understands Kara better) and her long-buried angst about her own neglectful mother. The intriguing supporting characters are limited by not-very-likable Leigh's POV, but Moriarty effectively conveys Leigh's longing for escape and wariness of reckoning." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Moriarty's honest novel about an ordinary family whose life changes in one extraordinary moment resonates like an emotional tuning fork." Jodi Picoult
"This is not a cheery book. Nor is it a superficial one. It is an intelligent, provocative and memorable novel." Kansas City Star
"Powerful, original, and utterly absorbing, Moriarty's novel will stay with the reader long after the final page is turned." Booklist
"Moriarty...is a blunt, honest scout. She strips away the detritus of deceit, leaving behind the unavoidable truth that follows." Library Journal
"Fortunately, in this novel where death and guilt haunt the characters, Ms. Moriarty includes humor." Dallas Morning News
"Although this novel could have degenerated into a cliche of mother-daughter angst, it doesn't, primarily because of Moriarty's action-packed writing style and her convincing characters." Baltimore Sun
With the publication of her first novel, The Center of Everything, Laura Moriarty was praised for her keen insights into the human condition, the wisdom of her characters, and her poignant and clear-sighted prose. With The Rest of Her Life, Moriarty's reputation as a novelist to watch is cemented, as she delivers a luminous, provocative, and ultimately redemptive look at how even mothers and daughters with the best intentions can be blind to the harm they do to each other.
About the Author
Laura Moriarty received her master's degree from the University of Kansas, and was awarded the George Bennett Fellowship for Creative Writing at Phillips Exeter Academy. Her first novel was The Center of Everything. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas.