Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty is a phenomenal mystery about a family and the experiences that shape minds and hearts. Moriarty’s wonderful and suspenseful story is about a family of talented Australian tennis players and coaches, the Delaneys. When Joy Delaney goes missing, her family and the police begin to suspect Stan, her husband of fifty years. Some of the Delaney siblings suspect their father while others believe he is innocent. Moriarty explores how family secrets shape relationships and how memories are subjective. The chapters go back and forth before and after the disappearance. When a mysterious woman, Savannah, arrives on the Delaney’s doorstep, they show her kindness, but question her motives and wonder about her past.
Moriarty excels at crafting contemporary fiction that explores family relationships and allows us to reflect on and examine our own experiences. She gives possible scenarios and clues for us to determine what happened to Joy, adding red herrings. I love the way her characters come to life. Joy, mother of four adult children, is pining for grandchildren and hiding secrets in her marriage. Moriarty has a talent for insightful comments on human relationships: “Sometimes their children would do everything exactly as they’d taught them, and sometimes they would do all the things they’d told them not to do, and seeing them suffer the tiniest disappointments would be more painful than their own most significant losses, but then other times they would do something so extraordinary, so unexpected and beautiful, so entirely of their own choice and their own making, it was like a splash of icy water on a hot day. Those were the glorious moments.”
The balance shifting between before and after the main event is a trademark of Moriarty’s style. Likewise, the time switches reveal how the family’s secrets change their relationships. Each sibling has a secret that is connected to the family’s miscommunications and dysfunctions. Apples Never Fall is a fantastically-written book with compelling characters that explores what families understand and what they often miss.