Liane Moriarty is known currently for her book, Nine Perfect Strangers, which was made into a limited Hulu series. She has nine adult novels that have been translated into forty languages and have sold more than 20 million copies all over the world. Moriarty has also written three books for children. Her latest adult novel had me on my toes until the very end.
Once you’ve hit a ball there’s no point watching to see where it’s going. You can’t change its flight path now. You have to think about your next move. Not what you should have done. What you do now. – Liane Moriarty, Apples Never Fall
Apples Never Fall is her newest novel, published in 2021. The above quote stuck with me throughout the book as it served as a metaphor both for tennis, which features predominantly in this book, and for life. This is a novel about marriage, siblings, and family, and the confusion and betrayal we feel when those we cherish lash out and hurt us.
The Delaney siblings are at a loss. Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke are all grown and out of their parents’ home, yet they all have a strong pull back to where they grew up, especially now that their mother has gone missing, seemingly without a trace and for no good reason.
The Delaneys are well known in their community. Stan and Joy, the parents, are tennis stars who set up their own tennis academy. They have been married for fifty years and people constantly talk about what a good match they are both on and off the court. Now they have sold the tennis academy and aren’t quite sure what to do with the rest of their lives. Their four children were all tennis stars, in their own right, of course, but Stan never truly believed any of them had the ability to truly make it. It’s okay though because they are all, mostly, settled into their adult lives and seem to have a handle on the future. At least on the surface they are, but even the happiest surfaces can be hiding secrets underneath.
Everything starts to bubble up when a strange young woman named Savannah shows up on Stan and Joy’s doorstep begging for help, bleeding after a domestic violence incident with her boyfriend. Stan and Joy take her in with almost no questions asked, much to their children’s chagrin.
Flash forward: Joy goes missing and Savannah is also nowhere to be found. All the children and Stan have been questioned. The police immediately hone in on Stan because he seems to be hiding something. Their children are also not being fully honest with the police and with each other. It doesn’t help that two of them think their father is innocent while the other two think that he may have hurt their mother. The more questions that are asked, the more each family member is forced to closely reexamine what they believe to be their family truths and core memories.
I particularly enjoyed this novel because it flashes back and forth between past and present. Each major characters’ point of view is also presented, including some peripheral random characters to add some color to the story. I listened to the audiobook version and really enjoyed the Australian narrator Caroline Lee.
This book is available in the following formats: