It’s a thin line between love and hate is something that has been ingrained in black culture for me. I think this has a lot to do with our relationship with our oppressors, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation for another day.
This was the first thing I thought of as I started The Almost Moon. I’m not sure what I was expecting from Alice Sebold; probably something similar to The Lovely Bones. I freaking loved that book (and the movie) growing up. Maybe this was my first introduction to my “white woman crime thrillers”.
What I was not prepared for was the main character straight up killing her own mother at the very top of the book. I’m like “Whaaaa??”
Throughout the book, it shows Helen dealing with guilt, relief, and grief. Too seamlessly Helen’s past is woven in with her present full of antics. There were many times where I felt frustrated with Helen and I found her incredibly selfish. I would not say I particularly liked her. But that’s the beauty of messy characters.
What fascinated me the most about this story was this cycling of emotions and Helen accepting her mother as a human, and not just a parent. Helen’s mother, Clair, kinda treated her really terribly. But of course, that’s my outside objective opinion. Her mother also had poor mental health. It created some sort of weird dynamic where the more Helen had to take care of her mother, the more she resented and loved her at the same time.
I think the resentment piece came into play when Helen had to assume the role of mother. She accepted her father more because it appeared that he took care of her more, despite his own mental health issues. Children assume that their parents are always equipped and are supposed to take care of them. This is not always the case.
Eventually in the book shows Helen’s shortcomings affecting her perceived aptitude as a parent. In the end, she makes a choice to be different from her own parents by not running away from her responsibilities.
This has been a theme in a few books I have been reading lately (and in my own life. I guess you are drawn to the lessons you need sometimes): Children need to see the humanity in their parents in order to know that their inadequacies don’t always mean that they love them any less.
I am terrified to be a parent because I don’t want to mess up my kid. No parent is perfect, and if they were, they’re not human. Although Pat from Smart House (Pat is the smart house) thought she could be the perfect mother, or rather Ben thought he could make a robot the perfect mother. That turned out to be a big mistake. So, I guess nothing is capable of being a perfect parent 🤷🏾♀️
My own mom may not be perfect, but she is a damn good mom and while I don’t think I would kill her, I just might hide a body with her if she ever needed to…