The Big Girls by Susanna Moore

December 18, 2012

Plot summary (from the publisher): Helen is serving a life sentence at Sloatsburg women’s prison for the murder of her children.

Dr. Louise Forrest, a recently divorced mother of an eight-year-old boy, is the new chief of psychiatry there.

Captain Ike Bradshaw is the corrections officer who wants her.

And Angie, an ambitious Hollywood starlet contacted by Helen, is intent on nothing but fame.

Drawing these four characters together in a story of shocking and disturbing revelations, The Big Girls is an electrifying novel about the anarchy of families, the sometimes destructive power of maternal instinct, and the cult of celebrity.

Warning: Spoilers below!


  • I thought Helen and Angie were the most compelling characters in the book. If the story had focused more on them and their pen pal relationship, I would have found it much more enjoyable.
  • The writing itself was good, and the author clearly does have talent. I’d try something else by her despite not liking this story all that much.


  • I didn’t like how the different POVs weren’t labeled as such. I had to read several snippets over and over again to figure out which character’s thoughts I was seeing.
  • One big problem with having each passage be so damn short was that the story as a whole had trouble gaining traction. Just as one character started thinking or doing something interesting, the “action” (such as it was) cut away to someone else.
  • Louise (the psychiatrist) wasn’t particularly likable. It’s too bad her POV seemed to dominate more than others.
  • The male POV was unnecessary, IMO. All he did was chime in here and there with his stupid “tips of the week” (or was it month?). His participation was so random and intermittent that I couldn’t see the point.
  • Nothing about the kid Ransom or the ex-husband Louise’s ex-husband interested me.


I was excited to read this book because it has received so many good reviews since its publication. Unfortunately, I just didn’t like the execution. All the different POVs, the jumping back and forth between characters, the boring details of Louise’s ex and son, the ridiculous “twist” regarding Helen and Angie… It got to be too much in the end. I give this one 2 stars out of 5.

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