Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty is a unique mystery and family drama.
Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors. Earlier this year, I ranked her best books and it was a lot of fun to take a look back at some of her previous novels. She already has such an impressive career! She’s written all kinds of novels and of course, is most popular for Big Little Lies, followed closely by Nine Perfect Strangers. I think it’s so neat that her novels are adapted for television. I personally love Big Littles Lies but was not a fan of Nine Perfect Strangers (which made me sad because I truly adore her writing).
Even though Nine Perfect Strangers was a disappointment, I’m been so looking forward to Apples Never Fall. I had a feeling that this was going to be a good one and I really enjoyed it. I did have some minor issues with it but overall, I think this was an entertaining and somewhat emotional read at times. And of course it’s full of her dark humor.
What’s the Story About
The story follows a very competitive family full of tennis players. The Delaneys are mainstays in the community. The parents, Stan and Joy, ran a tennis academy for years and now that they’ve sold it, they’re a bit at a lost of what to do next. It’s also debatable if they’re still in love or actually hate each other.
They have four adult children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke. Each were tennis stars but none of them made it to the big-time league. While tennis always lingers in the background they’ve also all moved on for the most part. Troy is super successful financial wealthy guy who is both overall confident and completely scared; Brooke just started her own medical practice but suffers from migraines; Logan teaches business at a local community college and seems content but is lying to himself and Amy acts younger than her age with her blue hair and is always on the move but also deals with anxiety and is potentially bipolar.
But one night, a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, changing the course of everyone’s life forever. Eventually Joy goes missing and Stan is the primary suspect.
Where is Joy? Is Stan guilty of murder? And what are Savannah’s true motives?
So I read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Malibu Rising earlier this year, which also feature four siblings. And what I liked about that one was the fact she really dived into the siblings’ relationships. I think Liane could have focused a little more on how the siblings related to each other as adults. It is there and it’s enough but I did want a little more—especially when you’re dealing with four of them and how they all were involved in tennis. But again, I did think they were interesting.
With Liane, you get an in-depth character study of each character—even minor ones that appear on a page for just a bit. We really dive deep into Joy and Stan’s complicated marriage from being madly in love to outright hate. I felt that Liane did a good job showing how a marriage can slowly unravel and minor grievances can build up over time.
I have complicated feelings about the Savannah character. She definitely throws this family a curveball and I’m still processing all her reveals. But what I will say is that she’s unique and her backstory was quite unexpected.
The overall mystery of what happened to Joy is interesting and goes down unexpected paths.
I’m a huge sports fan (if you follow my Twitter, you’ll notice I post plenty of OU football content this time of year). But I have to say, I don’t care that much for tennis. Not that I actively dislike it but just not interested. But I was engaged with this story about a tennis family, especially as I found their actions bizarre in many ways. The competitiveness is something else that’s for sure. Liane really did her research on the sport and what it takes to be successful.
It’s interesting how the love for tennis defines and also defies them in many ways.
Apples Never Fall is an ideal book club book—there’s so much to discuss and dissect. I can see some readers not loving story choices whereas others completely support it. This one is a complicated novel that is well-written and engaging. I highly recommend! For book clubs, check out my discussion questions here.