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Two Truths and a Lie

Review

Two Truths and a Lie

From Meg Mitchell Moore comes TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE, a scintillating, dishy and dark novel perfect for those who enjoyed NEVER HAVE I EVER and BIG LITTLE LIES.

The idyllic beach town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, is full of mom-and-pop fish joints, decadent buttered lobster, glitzy jewelry stores and the Mom Squad. The latter is a group of fit, attractive moms who are as good at downing three glasses of white wine at lunch as they are at planning out every playdate, summer barbecue and boating party they attend and throw with their husbands and children. But lately, they have been suffering from a bit of a rift: their unofficial leader, Rebecca, has lost her husband, Peter, to an aneurysm. As Moore writes, the Mom Squad understands her grief, of course, and when it happened they were happy to take over carpooling and preparing casseroles. But now, 18 months later, they have largely moved on, and Rebecca’s grief no longer has a place in their tight group.

"A pitch-perfect summer read with all the beauty of a Massachusetts beach, the crispness of a glass of Zinfandel, and the heart of a writer who 'gets it,' TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE is a delightful trek into the lives of Power Moms and their squads..."

Enter Sherri Griffin and her daughter, Katie. Sherri has just moved to Newburyport following a divorce, and though she seems nice enough and it is understandable she doesn’t have their routine quite down yet, everyone in the Mom Squad agrees that there is something off about her. Her bags are designer knockoffs, her daughter is a bit too guarded, and, of course, there is Rebecca’s sudden interest in her and willingness to include her in the group’s previously closed-off activities and parties. So what exactly is going on in Newburyport?

Writing in multiple perspectives, Moore introduces readers to the Mom Squad --- a group that speaks in the royal “we,” to this reader’s utter delight --- Rebecca, her teenage daughter Alexa, and Sherri. As outcasts of the group, Rebecca and Sherri bond quickly, finding comfort in their lack of shared history and their seclusion from the prying, judgmental eyes of the Mom Squad. Even better, their 11-year-old daughters, Katie and Morgan, become fast friends, each a little tender from recent hurts and desperate for a pal not forced upon them by a group of hot moms in Spandex. It soon becomes clear just how mean the Mom Squad really is, and how easily their lies twist and bend until the alliances and betrayals reach sky-high levels.

True to the book’s title, no one is completely honest --- or completely lying --- here. For Sherri, this means that some white lies about her past and her “complicated divorce” ultimately don’t align with her daughter’s fear of being alone. In flashbacks to Sherri’s past, we learn that she is hiding something very dark that could threaten not only her and her daughter’s lives, but also the lives of their new friends in Newburyport. Simultaneously, Rebecca’s lies about her busyness and feelings toward the Squad don’t quite add up when paired against her latest love interest, a man with a surprising connection to the group. Even Alexa is hiding a secret personality as a semi-famous YouTuber who dreams of moving away to Los Angeles to escape her town’s judgments and lack of privacy.

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE unfolds quickly, with Moore pairing the dishy drama with the idyllic summer setting perfectly, so that the surprising juxtaposition makes each element more powerful and affecting. The women, particularly Sherri and Rebecca, undergo serious character growth. Moore balances their personal journeys with the greater plot splendidly, creating two separate stories that could stand entirely on their own with no plot holes, but are so much stronger when tied together.

And then there’s the Mom Squad. Oh, how I loved this Greek chorus of bitchy ladies, so self-absorbed and simultaneously so obsessed with the women around them. In one laugh-out-loud moment, one of the Moms reveals a secret about another’s daughter, but swears she never told a soul --- and yet every single member of the Squad (not to mention the reader) knows exactly who she is talking about and what happened. This is the delightful punchiness of the book on full display, equal parts hilarious and cringeworthy in all the best ways.

I’ll admit that I had a particular soft spot for Rebecca. Though she was once the erstwhile leader of the Mom Squad, her new-ish grief was handled beautifully by Moore, and I loved watching how she slowly returned to herself --- all while remembering and demonstrating that grief is a process with no timeline. Moore’s ability to combine a heavy, heartfelt plotline like Rebecca’s with the otherwise witty and drama-filled narrative demonstrates serious control, and I marveled at her talent for laying major moments against the mundane.

A pitch-perfect summer read with all the beauty of a Massachusetts beach, the crispness of a glass of Zinfandel, and the heart of a writer who “gets it,” TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE is a delightful trek into the lives of Power Moms and their squads, with plenty of bended truths for thrills. Those who loved NEVER HAVE I EVER, or any and all of Liane Moriarty’s books, will not want to miss this one.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on June 19, 2020

Two Truths and a Lie
by Meg Mitchell Moore

  • Publication Date: June 16, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062840096
  • ISBN-13: 9780062840097