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The Half Moon

The Half Moon, May 2023
by Mary Beth Keane

Scribner
304 pages
ISBN: 1982172606
EAN: 9781982172602
Hardcover
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"There is plenty to enjoy in The Half Moon if you like this genre of a suburban utopia gone wrong"

Fresh Fiction Review

The Half Moon
Mary Beth Keane

Reviewed by Kishor Rao
Posted May 3, 2023

Fiction Literary

I love reading dysfunctional family stories and devoured Mary Beth Keane’s last family drama, ASK AGAIN, YES. I had a similar expectation from THE HALF MOON, and the synopsis also gave a similar vibe. It is very similar in that it is yet another character study of people living in the suburbs and the gravitational pull such a place has, never letting its inhabitants escape it.

A snowstorm hits Gillam, restricting its residents to their homes. Malcolm, the owner of the local bar, The Half Moon, is especially heartbroken by this fact as he has to come to terms with his broken marriage and the potential rumor that his wife, Jess, might already have moved on. Having lived in Gillam forever, Malcolm’s dream is to be just like his father, owning a bar and making a name for himself. Jess, a lawyer, put her career at stake after getting married to Malcolm in the hope of having children, having several complications trying to conceive. A series of decisions taken in fulfilling their dreams has somehow soured their relationship. They are left to put the whole series of events into perspective this week for the lack of anything else to bury themselves with. THE HALF MOON is a story about hope and optimism. Hope when all things seem bleak and nothing seems to go your way. Hope that the person you trusted is not entirely lost even when they act like they are. Hope the dream you believed in can come true even after it has wounded you several times. I loved how Malcolm and Jess go back to the memories which they believe were the catalyst for their inevitable end but cannot help admiring their counterparts even in these uncomfortable memories. They try to justify the events by going back but come up with details that shift their perspective in more ways than one.

This storytelling pattern became redundant by the time I reached the 50% mark, where new subplots were thrown in, which did not pay off. With editing, some of the story could have been trimmed to keep things crisp and fast-paced, but then again, I understand the author’s point with every anecdote she goes over to give us minute character details. While I particularly did not like the ending, it is abrupt enough to tell us that life is like that and that a story never ends where the book does.

There is plenty to enjoy in THE HALF MOON if you like this genre of a suburban utopia gone wrong, made famous by Mary Beth Keane, Therese Anne Fowler, and Celeste Ng.

Learn more about The Half Moon

SUMMARY

Named a Most Anticipated Book of the Year by Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, BookPage, LitHub and more

“I adored this compelling, touching, exquisitely crafted story about a marriage in crisis.” —Liane Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies

From the bestselling author of Ask Again, Yes, a masterful novel about a couple in a small town who must navigate the complexities of marriage, family, and longing.

Malcolm Gephardt, handsome and gregarious longtime bartender at the Half Moon, has always dreamed of owning a bar. When his boss finally retires, Malcolm stretches to buy the place. He sees unquantifiable magic and potential in the Half Moon and hopes to transform it into a bigger success, but struggles to stay afloat.

His smart and confident wife, Jess, has devoted herself to her law career. After years of trying for a baby, she is facing the idea that motherhood may not be in the cards for her. Like Malcolm, she feels her youth beginning to slip away and wonders how to reshape her future.

Award-winning author Mary Beth Keane’s new novel takes place over the course of one week when Malcolm learns shocking news about Jess, a patron of the bar goes missing, and a blizzard hits the town of Gillam, trapping everyone in place. With a deft eye and generous spirit, Keane explores the disappointments and unexpected consolations of midlife, the many forms forgiveness can take, the complicated intimacy of small-town living, and what it means to be a family.


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