Getting through the valleys + “Every Last Lie” by Mary Kubica

Marriage is not all wine and roses. Well — maybe the wine. But it’s not all roses.

If you’re married, you know this. Heck, if you’re in a relationship at all, you can make that deduction. Because relationships are hard work.

(FYI, this is not an essay bashing marriage or husbands or my husband or relationships in general. If  I scared you, continue on. It’s safe.)

For this post, I’m going to talk about marriage. It’s the relationship I know the best at this point in my life. But my deep and meaningful (I say this tongue-in-cheek, because these are just and only my deep thoughts) insights can describe any relationship of duration, from romantic relationships to friendships and even family relationships.

Marriage starts off as magic. From the moment two people meet, there’s a magic that comes with that new connection. You meet, you spark, you fall in love. You get married, and that marriage starts off on a high (or it should–mine did). For the first while, it’s all magic.

And then that magic – that connection – ebbs a bit, and then flows again. It’s starts off up high. On top of a mountain. The very peak of that mountain. But the air gets thin up there, and you have to come down. Sometimes it’s a slow descent, sometimes you’re on the world’s fastest pair of skis.

That’s when you hit the valley floor. Those valleys can be long and flat, much like the day-to-day of life and marriage. Or they can be small; a little valley — a big fight, after which you start the ascent to the top of the good relationship mountain (boy, isn’t that a trite little metaphor).

Or it could be just a valley, not long or short, but filled with lies and untold truths, spread throughout that valley like hidden gopher holes and dangerous old wells. That’s the time when marriage becomes an obstacle course, with traps to avoid and overcome.

I believe the valleys happen no matter what you do. I don’t know a marriage that doesn’t have ups and downs. Everything in life is ups and down, a scale trying to find the balance, achieving it in rare moments that are remembered and cherished. Those are the moments that make a marriage special.

It’s how you handle the valleys that makes your relationship. If you can weather the down times, you start back up that next mountain a little stronger, getting to the next peak together, ready to celebrate and enjoy it (at least until you get to the next valley).

And, without the valleys, we would not be able to appreciate the mountain highs quite as much.

But what would happen if your spouse died while you’re in the relationship valley? What if you didn’t realize you were caught in such a dangerous valley – because your spouse kept covering up the lies and untruths? What if he died, and you were suddenly left with those hidden gopher holes and old wells, the ones he covered up and hid?

That’s the premise of Mary Kubica’s Every Last Lie.

Clara Solberg is a happy wife. Married to a wonderful man that dotes on her, with a precocious young daughter and a newborn son. Her husband, Nick, has a dental practice that’s taking off, and her life seems good (although she could use a good night’s sleep).

On an afternoon when her new baby, Felix, is actually sleeping, Nick offers to take their daughter, Maisie, to her dance class. After class, he calls and offers to pick up Chinese food, making her feel like the luckiest woman in the world (it’s amazing how standards fall when you’re sleep deprived with a new born).

But, when the police arrive at her house rather than Nick with the food, she knows something is really wrong. Uncomprehendingly, she listens as they tell her Nick was killed in a single car crash. Surprisingly, Maisie has no injuries.

And so begins Clara’s long, dark trip. Sleep deprived and mourning, sleep becomes more elusive. When Maisie mentions a bad man, Clara decides the accident wasn’t an accident, and she needs to figure out who killed her husband.

Along the way she starts to discover all the things Nick was keeping from her. Those little lies and untruths start to pop up, causing her head to spin with dark thoughts. Wading through the sleep deprivation, the sadness, and the mystery — not to mention her mother’s Alzheimer’s and her father’s caretaking — Clara is determined to discover the truth about her husband and his death.

I really enjoyed Every Last Lie. I could feel Clara’s pain, understand her loss and descent into a kind of madness. In any other mystery, the amount of suspects and problems would overwhelm me as a reader, but it worked her. Clara’s feeling overwhelmed, making up scenarios and suspects at every turn. The fact that many of these people aren’t exactly good people helps her make them into killers, at least in her mind.

When the truth does emerge, it’s beyond her wildest (and they do get wild) imaginings.

Kubica does a fantastic job with Every Last Lie, continuing with her string of great mysteries. I think this was my favorite of her books, if only because I could imagine being Clara at one point in my life.

I highly recommend Every Last Lie. It’s the perfect vacation/beach/lakehouse/rainy day read. Incredibly unputdownable!!!

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