Mira and Max Zielinski are about to celebrate their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and the grown children will soon be descending upon the family home.

As Mira contemplates their descent, she reminisces about moments in the past and about how, despite her efforts, none of them seem to share her values. For Mira, a professor, is an aging flower child, while each of her children seems to represent the antithesis of her beliefs.

Katya, Ivan, and Irina–whose names were chosen from Mira’s “Russian novel phase”–have each distanced themselves with their own versions of those names: Kat, Van, and Reenie.

Real Life & Liars is told from the points of view of Mira and the three children, with Mira’s story in first person narrative while the rest are in third person voice.

As the family assembles, they each come to “the party” bearing secrets, disappointments, and resentments.

As Mira’s secrets are released, what will be the fall-out on the assembled family? What will each of them discover about the connections between them? Will the unleashing of their secrets reveal the fragility of their connections, or will they discover new strength in the ties between them?

Katya’s apparent self-confidence and perfection as the oldest has rendered her almost unapproachable at times. So much so that Van, struggling with his career choices, wants to know how she managed to achieve such perfection. She replies:

“There is no perfect. Only real life and liars.”

A perfect example of how each of them has constructed false images of the others. In reexamining these beliefs and reassessing their own choices, can they finally find a way to move on from their childhood roles?

From the first page, I loved the character of Mira. Her imperfections, about which she made no apologies, offered a real person to enjoy as she blundered along, dealing with her secret and with the confusing realities of her children’s lives.

To me, Katya seemed the most annoying, in her bossy, dramatic, and sarcastic way, while Irina’s whining made me want to slap her. And yet each of them suffered with their choices and hid their real selves behind the facades they had created. I loved this story: five stars from me.

Please leave your thoughts. Comments, not awards, feed my soul. Thanks!

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