Big Little Lies is told from alternating points of view, flipping between the present and the six-month timeline leading up to trivia night. Police notes and interviews from the night are sprinkled throughout the story. Don’t worry, it’s way less complicated than it sounds.
A trivia night fundraiser at the Pirriwee Public School in Australia gets out of hand. A physical fight breaks out. A police siren is heard. There are statements taken from the parents at trivia night. And so it begins . . .
Quote: ” . . . it all goes back to the stay-at-home mums battling it out with the career mums. What do they call it? The Mummy Wars.”
Chapter 2: Six months Before the Trivia Night
Madeline drives her youngest daughter, Chloe, to kindergarten orientation. She is stressing over turning forty, “Fooorty.” She gets out of her SUV to yell at a car full of teens who are texting while driving, and hurts her ankle.
Quote: “That was almost certainly the moment the story began. With the ungainly flip of an ankle.”
Jane is 24. She is taking her son Ziggy to kindergarten orientation when she sees Madeline fall on the street and helps her.
**Police Interview: A parent gives a statement suggesting Ziggy did something terrible at orientation.
Quote: “You were either on Team Madeline or Team Renata.”
Madeline takes Jane to have coffee at a cafe owned her friend Tom. They will be meeting her friend, Celeste. Celeste is a thin, beautiful, blonde mother of twin boys (Max and Josh) and is married to Perry, the perfect, rich husband. Jane tells Madeline she is a single mum who decided to move to Pirriwee on a whim. In reality, Jane has a past and has been moving every six months since Ziggy has been born. Madeline tells Jane her first husband left when their daughter, Abigail, was just a baby. Her ex, Nathan, is now married to Bonnie (a super zen hippy) and they have a daughter, Skye, who is Chloe’s age, and will be attending the same Kindergarten.
Quote: “They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”
Question: Do you have a grudge that you know you should let go of but just can’t?
Celeste enters the cafe and is disappointed Madeline isn’t alone. Lately, Celeste has been having a hard time being herself in groups. Celeste gives Madeline a bottle of expensive champagne and a set of Waterford champagne flutes for her birthday. Madeline tells Jane about school politics — including Renata, a working mum, and the gifted program. The trio enjoys a champagne toast.
**Police interview: Some of the parents accuse the trio of coming back to school drunk that day.
Quote: “I won’t get involved in any school politics.”
The trio goes back to school to pick up the kids from orientation. Jane is surprised to find she thinks of Madeline and Celeste as friends. Jane meets Renata when she mistakes Jane for a nanny. When the kids are released, the teacher, Miss Barnes, tells the parents there was an incident. Renata’s daughter, Amabella, was bullied by one of the boys. Renata blows up and the teacher makes the boys stand in a police lineup. Amabella points to Ziggy and says he choked her. ** Police Interview: We learn someone from trivia night is dead.
Quote: “Madeline just loves a fight.”
Question: How do you feel about the boys being made to line up?
Ziggy says he didn’t do it. Jane stands by her son. Renata quickly loses her cool. She gets in Ziggy’s face trying to make him apologize and then tells Jane her son is lying. Renata threatens Ziggy before leaving with her kids.
Quote: “See, I’m just the sort of person who would be bored out of my mind if I had to be a full-time mother.”
Question: Would you stand up for your kid, or be convinced he/she was lying?
Chapter 8: Five Months Before the Trivia Night
It’s Christmas. Madeline’s daughter, Abigail, has decided to spend it with her ex-husband and Bonnie. It’s becoming clear that Abigail idolizes Bonnie.
** Police Interview: A parent accuses Bonnie of throwing a drink at Madeline during trivia night.
Celeste, Perry and the twins are in Canada for Christmas. From the outside in everything looks perfect. Perry picks the perfect gifts. He posts perfect pictures on Facebook. He planned the perfect Christmas vacation. Then, without giving us any preamble, Celeste decides she will wait to leave Perry until the boys have finished high school.
**Police Interview: A parent questions Perry and Celeste’s perfect marriage.
Quote: “Today would be perfect in every way. The Facebook photos wouldn’t lie.”
Question: Were you shocked to learn Celeste wanted to leave Perry?
Ziggy has been sleeping with Jane every night since the incident. She wakes from a nightmare of Ziggy choking her. Jane tries to push aside thoughts that her sweet, patient, kind child could harm someone else. Memories of Jane’s past involving bruises try to surface, but she tamps them down.
Quote: “Boys need a male role model. I’m sorry, but it’s a fact.”
Question: Did you think Ziggy harmed Ambella?
Celeste, Perry and the twins are flying back to Australia. Perry is a doting father. He tells them he will try to travel less this year. He makes Celeste feel like when they first met. She wonders if maybe she could stay with him.
Quote: “Gosh you kids have a good life.”
Chapter 12: Four Months Before the Trivia Night
Chloe wants a playdate with Ziggy, but Madeline’s husband Ed isn’t so sure he wants his daughter playing with someone who could be dangerous. Madeline tells him Ziggy is innocent and Chloe can protect herself. Abigail announces she’s going to be vegan like Bonnie.
** Police Interview: A parent says Madeline and Bonnie were fighting about Abigail earlier in the evening. Bonnie tries to get a detective to smell her new lemon myrtle incense because, “You look like you need a little stress relief, if you don’t mind my saying.”
Question: Wait a minute, you haven’t already made up your mind about Bonnie without even meeting her, have you?
Perry and Celeste take the boys to get new school uniforms. They fought the night before when the computer began acting up and Celeste asked Perry to fix it. When he couldn’t, Perry slowly became enraged. Their fighting turned physical and lasted all night. It ended at 5 a.m. with angry sex and they both apologized. Celeste told Perry they should see a therapist and he agreed. She knows it will never happen. They tried seeing a therapist before, but they both lied about their real issues and never went back.
They run into Renata and she tells Perry about Ziggy attacking her daughter. Renata also lets it accidentally (?) slip that Celeste was drinking with Ziggy’s mom during the incident. Celeste’s shoulder hurts and Perry looks remorseful. She knows he will bring her back jewelry from his next trip that she will never wear.
Quote: “Was there some sick, damaged part of Celeste that actually liked living like this and wanted this shameful, dirty marriage?”
Question: Were you surprised to find out that Celeste fought back? Does it change the way you think about her character?
It is revealed that Madeline and Celeste met when their children were in swimming lessons. One of the twins fell in the pool and no one else noticed. Madeline jumped in and saved him. Madeline invites Celeste to a playdate with Jane and Ziggy. While looking in the mirror, Madeline laments looking tired and old. She tells Celeste when Bonnie came to pick Abigail up, her daughter was so excited that she literally ran out of the house.
Quote (from police interview): “No. The school has not had a trivia night end in bloodshed before. I find that question offensive and inflammatory.”
Jane shows up to the playdate and meets Madeline’s husband Ed. She asks them how they met and Ed paints a great love story. It’s easy for her to see how much he loves and admires Madeline. Jane feels terrible that she can’t give Ziggy a life like his classmates. She also worries that he may have harmed Amabella and hates herself for thinking it. Jane thinks that Madeline has great love and Celeste has great beauty.
Ed thinks both Celeste and Jane are a little damaged. Madeline thinks she must be damaged too. She’s hurt that her daughter, Abigail, keeps picking her ex-husband over her. It was Madeline and Abigail alone for a long time after Nathan left them. But now all Abigail wants is to spend time with her younger step-mother, Bonnie. Ed jokingly offers to kill Nathan for Madeline and frame Bonnie.
Quote: “I always thought Nathan’s punishment for walking out on us would be that Abigail wouldn’t love him the way she loved me.”
Question: Do you think Madeline’s feelings of jealousy are warranted?
It’s the first day of school, Jane (and her parents) meet Madeline’s ex-husband Nathan, his wife, Bonnie and their daughter Skye. Amabella invites every child except Ziggy to her fifth birthday.
Madeline and Ed take Fred and Chloe to school. They run into Nathan who acts like he’s never had a child start school before and says he “got a bit teary” when he saw Skye ready for Kindergarten. Madeline remembers the night Nathan left when Abigail was three weeks old. When she finds out Renata invited everyone but Ziggy to Amabella’s birthday party she declares, “War, I tell you!”
Question: What would you do if everyone was invited to a birthday party but your child?
Madeline and Ed go for coffee with Jane and her parents. Madeline and Jane’s mum, Di, go for a walk on the beach. Di admits Jane hasn’t been as open with her the last few years and thanks Madeline for being friends with her daughter. Di says Jane hasn’t dated in six years and they don’t know who Ziggy’s father is. Madeline decides to take Jane under her wing.
Jane works from home as a bookkeeper. She worries Ziggy won’t fit in on his first day of school. A friend asks to set Jane up on a date, and she reluctantly agrees. After she says yes to the date, Jane is sick to her stomach.
Quote: “If she packaged the perfect Facebook life, maybe she would start to believe it herself.”
Question: Why do you think Jane fears Ziggy may have harmed Amabella?
Jane and Celeste meet while picking up their children. Celeste used to be a lawyer before she had the twins. Deep down she can’t tell if she wants to be a stay at home mom or go back to practicing law. Madeline gets free tickets to Disney on Ice for the same day as Amabella’s party and gives out the tickets to every child in Kindergarten.
** Police Interview: A parent says Celeste was repeatedly telling Jane “I’m sorry” on trivia night.
Chapter 22: Three Months Before the Trivia Night
Celeste and Perry are watching TV. Perry gets upset the boys are going to Disney on Ice. Celeste contemplates her options, knowing that the outcome will most likely be the same. Perry grabs her arm and shoves her. Celeste remembers the first time Perry hurt her, when the twins were less than a year old, she had told him she would leave him if he ever did it again. They both cried. He didn’t hit her again until the twins were two. Celeste is torn between her rational understanding of what is happening and the part of her that says this isn’t “proper domestic violence.”
Quote: “This was just a glitch in an otherwise perfect relationship. Every relationship has its glitches.”
Question: Why is it hard for Celeste to think of herself as being properly abused?
Chloe and eight children attend Disney on Ice. Madeline tells herself she is taking a stand because of sweet, fatherless Ziggy. “Who was possibly a secret psychopathic bully . . . but still!” The need to leave Perry hits Celeste, but then she remembers the boys will be tired after the show. Ziggy forgets the class stuffed animal at the ice rink and Jane calls Madeline crying because she is worried about what the other parents will think.
Chapter 24: Two Months Before the Trivia Night
Abigail tells her mom she wants to live with Nathan. Madeline sees him at the children’s athletic day. She’s surprised he’s there. He never came to any of Abigail’s events when she was young. He tries to talk to Madeline about child support now that Abigail will be living with him and Bonnie. Madeline makes him feel bad for bringing it up, which then makes her feel bad because he is with his daughter Skye.
The ladies line up for the kindergarten mother’s race. Jane has been volunteering and trying to make the other parents like her, but she still feels like something is off. Bonnie, Madeline, and Jane take part in the race while Renata and Celeste hold the finishing tape.
Perry hit Celeste the night before during an argument over Legos. He backhanded her and her knee hit the table. Madeline wins the race, but Renata declares Bonnie the winner. Bonnie says Madeline won. Madeline takes the medal and puts it in Bonnie’s hand, looks her in the eye, and tells Bonnie she beat her. FYI she’s not just talking about the medal.
Question: When Celeste tells the twins she can’t run in the race Max whines, but Josh’s response is different. “‘You should be more careful,” Josh had said quietly, without looking at her.” How does this showcase the twins different views on what is happening in their home?
Celeste comes home and feels guilty. She donates $25,000 to charity. She thinks about a time in college when a girl in her class made a joke about not wanting to be around Celeste when she was having a bad day because Celeste looked happy and beautiful. Now Celeste tries to look grateful instead of too happy. After getting flowers delivered from Perry with an “I’m sorry” card, Celeste finds the nerve to Google domestic violence counselor.
Quote: “She could feel her cheeks burn as she typed in the two shameful worlds. ‘Domestic.’ ‘Violence.'”
Question: Why do you think it is particularly “shameful” for Celeste to search for a domestic violence counselor instead of a marriage counselor?
Madeline is packing up Abigail’s room, including the new four-poster canopy bed they got her for her 14th birthday. Madeline is extremely hurt but pretends she’s okay. Ed gives her the idea to start a book club.
Quote: “I picked something with lots of sex, drugs and murder,” Madeline had said, “so we have a lively discussion. Ideally, there should be an argument.”
Chapter 29: One Month Before the Trivia Night
Jane is reading the book club pick when she starts to feel tingly. She realizes she is having a response to a steamy part of the book and is okay for a moment before memories of an unwanted sexual encounter try to drag her under. Ziggy reminds her of a school project. Jane mixed up the dates and realizes Ziggy’s family tree project is due the next day. She texts Madeline to see if she has supplies. Jane and Ziggy fight. Jane yells and Ziggy cries in his bed. Madeline comes to her rescue with supplies.
Quote: “I’m sorry for wanting to throw you against the wall.”
Question: Should Jane’s thought of hurting Ziggy be taken seriously?
Ziggy gets upset when Jane won’t tell him his father’s name to put on the family tree. Jane calmly explains to him again that he doesn’t have a dad, and if she knew his name, she would tell him. After the project is done, Jane tells Madeline Ziggy’s dad’s name is Saxon Banks.
Quote: “Oh, Jane, what did that bastard do to you?”
A flashback to before Ziggy. Jane is 19 and her long-term boyfriend breaks up with her. To get over her broken heart, she travels to the city to party with a friend. She meets a businessman named Saxon Banks and goes back to his hotel room with him. They take off their clothes consensually. When she asks for a condom, he begins to choke her. He asks if Jane has ever tried it. She says no and asks him to stop. He continues choking Jane and then rapes her. He tells her she is fat and ugly and her breath smells. She quits trying to resist. When he is done he turns on the TV. Jane gets off the bed and puts on her dress. She says goodbye as she leaves. She hates herself for it.
While Madeline apologizes to Jane for what happened to her, Jane makes excuses for Saxon. Jane is mad that he still has power over her and how she sees herself. From her eating disorder to her obsessive gum chewing. Jane confides in Madeline that she is worried Ziggy might have inherited violent tendencies from his father. Madeline wants to Google Saxon Banks, but Jane asks her not to.
Quote: “Why did I feel so weirdly violated by those two words? More than anything else that he did to me, it was those two words that hurt. ‘Fat.’ ‘Ugly.'”
Question: Why are those two words so powerful? Do you think they hold power over most women?
Celeste meets with Susi, the domestic violence counselor. She struggles to explain her relationship with Perry. She admits to being afraid for her life. But it’s complicated. They tried so hard to get pregnant, but Celeste had four miscarriages. She tells Susi what a wonderful father Perry is. Celeste describes their relationship as a seesaw — when Perry hits her, she gets all the power. Then she will make him mad, and Perry has all the power. Susi sees through Celeste’s facade. She and tells Celeste they need to make a plan for the next time Perry hits her.
Quote: “How do you think the abuse impacts your sons?”
Question: Do you think Celeste would act differently if she had daughters?
Madeline tells Ed what happened to Jane. He calls Saxon a “Bastard” but also calls Jane a “Silly, silly, girl.” Madeline yells at him and accuses him of blaming the victim. She Googles Saxon Banks. Madeline finds a property developer with a wife and three daughters. After Googling Banks, Madeline feels like she violated Jane’s privacy.
Quote: “It’s all fine and dandy for you to sleep with random women, but when a woman does, it’s silly. That’s a double standard!”
Question: Did Ed shame Jane by calling her a “silly girl?”
Chapter 35: Two Weeks Before Trivia Night
Jane is feeling better after telling Madeline. She even told Celeste on one of their walks. By sharing her story, Saxon Bank’s words have lost some of their power. She goes to the cafe to gets some work done and talks with the barista Tom. The principal calls and asks to see Jane in the afternoon.
** Police Interview: Miss Barnes [Ziggy’s teacher] believes the year was going well until about the halfway point, when everything broke down.
Jane goes to the meeting with Principal Lipmann. Amabella is still being bullied, including having a bite mark, but she won’t say who is doing it. The teacher does not believe it is Ziggy. Principal Lipmann asks if there is anything in Ziggy’s background that may cause him to behave like a bully. Renata and her husband Geoff make their way into the office even though they are early. Renata starts accusing Ziggy of bullying Amabella.
Quote: “I want her child to stay the hell away from my daughter.”
Question: Does Renata get special privileges because she is rich?
Abigail is spending the weekend with her mom. She is researching an article on child slavery and wants to do something but before she can tell Madeline her idea Nathan shows up to take her home.
Celeste rents an apartment where she and the boys can hide away. She decorates it with things Perry would hate. Celeste begins to think of all the things she would miss, including Perry’s large family. She wonders if “a little violence” was the price she paid for an almost perfect life.
Jane asks Ziggy if he hurt Amabella. He doesn’t want to talk about it.
Chapter 40: One Week Before the Trivia Night
Madeline is getting ready for book club. One of the parents begins talking about the petition to get Ziggy suspended. Chloe comes in and asks if they were talking about Ziggy. She tells Madeline she punched a kid when he told Ziggy he couldn’t play with him because he was a bully.
Question: Is it okay for Chloe to punch a child in defense of Ziggy?
Ziggy’s teacher, Miss Barnes, calls Jane to warn her about a petition to have Ziggy suspended. Miss Barnes doesn’t think Ziggy is bullying Amabella, in fact, the two seem to be friends.
Celeste’s babysitter, Gwen, asks how she bruised her arm. She doesn’t seem to believe Celeste.
Jane stays home from book club. Ziggy is crying because kids don’t want to play with him. Madeline tells Jane they are going to fight this. Jane dreams of punching Renata in the face for hurting Ziggy this way. She takes Ziggy to her parent’s house to spend the night.
At the book club, all the parents are talking about the petition. Celeste wonders what they would think if they knew what Perry did to her. She tries to change the subject to the trivia night. Perry loves costume parties and already plans to get Celeste real pearls for her Audrey Hepburn costume.
After the book club Madeline mentions Saxon Banks to Celeste. Celeste recognizes the name because it’s Perry’s cousin. They look up the photo and Celeste confirms it’s him. They look at a picture of Ziggy and think there are some similarities. They agree to keep it a secret even though Madeline isn’t very good at keeping her mouth shut.
Celeste thinks about Saxon. She wonders if he and Perry have the same glitch. She thinks Perry’s anger is understandable, but Saxon is evil.
Quote: “At least he wasn’t as bad as his cousin.”
Jane wonders if they should move away but thinks of all the gains she and Ziggy have made in Pirriwee. Her father tells Jane not to let Renata bully her into leaving. Jane lets it slip that she knows who Ziggy’s father is. She fools her parents into believing Saxon didn’t hurt her, but her brother doesn’t buy it.
It’s late. Madeline works through some anger with her son, Fred’s, lightsaber. Then she checks Abigail’s social media accounts, to stay close to her daughter. A friend has commented on a picture asking if this photo is slutty enough for her secret project. Abigail has commented back recently. Madeline checks the time and messages her to go to sleep because she has math tutor in the morning. Abigail tells her Nathan tutors her now. Madeline calls Nathan and finds out he canceled the tutoring without discussing it with her first.
Question: Is Nathan a good dad?
Chapter 49: Five Days Before the Trivia Night
Jane is volunteering at the school when she hears some parents talking about her. She confronts them, telling them Ziggy has never hurt anyone. Miss Barnes still doesn’t think Ziggy is hurting Amabella. The principal has added a teacher’s aide to the classroom to watch the children and hasn’t seen anything happen.
** Police Interview: Parents remember that was the day of the “assault.”
Jane is reading with the children at school. She finishes with Max and sees Amabella is next. After Amabella is done reading Jane asks her if Ziggy has hurt her. Amabella says, “It wasn’t . . . ” before she starts crying. One of Renata’s friends sees and comes running over. She accuses Jane of bullying Amabella.
Quote: “Like mother, like son!”
Question: Do you consider what Jane did as bullying Amabella?
Chapter 51: The Day Before the Trivia Night
** Police Interview: The Department of Education became involved. There is no way Ziggy can be suspended.
Madeline and Ed are going to a school function. Ed, a reporter for the local newspaper, has been asked to write an article on the bullying going on at school. They run into Perry and Celeste. Madeline asks if Celeste has talked to Perry about Saxon. She has not. Perry asks if he should sign Renata’s petition. Celeste tells him she will leave him if he signs it.
Question: Do you think Celeste was joking or serious?
** Police Interview: At trivia night the Renata and Madeline supporters each kept to their half of the room.
At the school function, Bonnie sits beside Madeline. Bonnie looks perfect, just showered from hot yoga in a tank top and yoga pants. She apologizes to Madeline for Nathan canceling the math tutor without telling them. Bonnie says they need to work on communication. She asks Madeline to their home next week to celebrate Abigail’s 15th birthday. Madeline is hurt and livid.
Quote: “At least you can never take Chloe away from me, the way you’ve taken Abigail.”
Question: Does Madeline have a valid excuse for hating Bonnie?
Jane and Ziggy have skipped the school function so Ziggy can see a child psychologist. The psychologist doesn’t think Ziggy hurt Amabella, in fact, she is worried Ziggy may be getting bullied. Ziggy has told the psychologist his father may be Darth Vader. The Psychologist thinks it may be because Ziggy has gotten the idea that his father wasn’t very nice. He didn’t want the psychologist asking Jane about his father because it might upset her.
Quote: “He was very firm with me. He didn’t want me upsetting you.”
Perry and Celeste drive home. Celeste thinks of the apartment that should almost be furnished. Perry unexpectedly decided to come inside instead of going straight back to work. When they get inside the house, he grabs Celeste’s hair and tells her he will fucking kill her if she embarrasses him like that again (referring to when she said she would leave him if he signed the petition). She tries to say I’m sorry, but he tells her it’s not good enough and slams her head against the wall. Celeste is dizzy and sick to her stomach. Perry comes back with an ice pack. They hold each other and cry on the floor.
Quote: “The cold deliberateness of it was as shocking and surreal as the first time he’d hit her. The pain felt intensely personal, like a broken heart.”
Madeline must call Lorraine for work. She dreads it because Lorraine is a mother of Abigail’s classmate and a gossip. Lorraine has news: Renata’s husband is cheating on her with their French nanny. Lorraine also lets Madeline know something is up with Abigail’s special project. Her daughter has made some comments that worry her. When Madeline hangs up with Lorraine, Nathan calls her. He starts by saying, “Don’t get upset.”
Question: Should Madeline tell Renata her husband is cheating on her?
Celeste didn’t believe Susi when she said the end of her and Perry’s relationship would be the hardest. If Perry had slammed her head a just a little harder into the wall, he would have killed her. If she leaves, he will kill her. If she stays, he will one day kill her.
Quote: “There was no way out. An apartment with neatly made beds was no escape plan. It was a joke.”
Nathan tells Madeline Abigail set up an online auction for her virginity. She was going to use the proceeds to raise awareness for Amnesty International. Madeline thinks of how odd it is to be dealing with one of her kid’s problems with anyone but Ed. She blames Nathan and Bonnie.
** Police Interview: Bonnie understands why Madeline would be upset with them.
Quote: “If the world stands by while a seven-year-old is sold for sex, then the world shouldn’t blink an eye if a privileged white fourteen-year-old girl sells herself for sex.”
Question: Who would you blame for Madeline’s website?
Jane takes Ziggy for breakfast at Tom’s cafe after the child psychologist. She is thinking of moving. She asks Ziggy what he thinks. Ziggy would like to stay. He tells Jane about all the friends he’s made including Amabella. Jane urges Ziggy to tell her who is hurting Amabella. Ziggy promised not to tell, but Jane works around the promise by having Ziggy write the name down. One of the moms from school comes into the cafe with her husband. The husband gets in Jane’s space and threatens her. Tom tells them to leave. Jane is taken aback by the kindness and realizes Tom is another friend she has made here. Ziggy shows her the name he has written – “MaKs.”
Quote: “The mean twin.”
Question: Has there been evidence of a “mean” twin? Example: The reaction the twins give Celeste when she tells them in Chapter 26 that she hurt herself and can’t run in the mommy race.
Perry gave Celeste a strong painkiller. As it begins to work, she asks him about the year he was bullied. Saxon punched Perry’s bully and put an end to it. Celeste wonders why Saxon turned into a rapist if he was never bullied.
Madeline and Nathan have no luck taking down Abigail’s website because they can’t figure out her password. Madeline decides she’s going to get Abigail from school and force her to give her the password. Nathan thinks maybe they should try grounding her first. Madeline realizes Nathan has no idea what he is dealing with when it comes to their daughter.
Quote: “Are you kidding? Of course I’m going to yell at her!” yelled Madeline. “She’s selling her virginity on the Internet!”
Jane drives Ziggy back to school. She tells him he did the right thing by telling her. Jane doesn’t know who she should tell first — Celeste or Miss Lipmann. Ziggy says Max told Amabella if she told on him he would hurt her when there were no adults around. That’s why Amabella pointed at Ziggy on the first day. Before they can get in the school the woman from across the street tells Jane she thinks Ziggy has lice. He does.
Madeline and Abigail are arguing in her car. Madeline is trying to get through to her. She understands she is trying to raise awareness, but the story is too sensational and the only thing people will remember is a fourteen-year-old girl selling herself on the Internet. Madeline runs into the back of Renata’s car.
Question: How would you explain to a teenager why her virginity auction would not work?
The woman across the street from the school sends Ziggy and Jane to her daughter’s salon to get rid of the lice. The stylist talks Jane into a makeover.
** Police Interview: Jane looked amazing at the beginning of the night.
Madeline drops the twins off at Celeste’s. She tells Celeste about Abigail and Celeste thinks Madeline should be angry, but also proud of her. Celeste looks terrible and Madeline tells her to rest.
Chapter 65: Eight Hours Before the Trivia Night
Jane is driving back after dropping Ziggy off with her parents. She worries about telling Celeste about Max but doesn’t think it will affect their friendship because Celeste is just too nice. Jane is excited by her new haircut. It’s the first time she’s been excited about her appearance since Saxon. She decides to stop by Tom’s cafe.
Celeste is upstairs while Perry and the boys make breakfast. Perry always tries to be extra special after he abuses her. She decides when Perry leaves for work after the trivia night she and the boys will leave him.
Abigail won’t take her website down and Ed begins to think they might have to go to the police. Madeline is still brainstorming with Ed when Abigail comes out of her room and tells them she has taken the website down. She received an email from Larry Fitzgerald in the United States who offered to donate $100,000 to Amnesty International if she took the website down. Madeline wonders about Mr. Larry Fitzgerald.
Quote: “I do so admire what you are trying to achieve, but you are a child yourself, Miss Mackenzie, and I cannot in good conscience stand by and see you take this project to fruition.”
Question: Who do you think Mr. Fitzgerald is?
Jane goes to Tom’s cafe in the pouring rains, but it’s closed. Tom sees her and opens the doors. He takes her into his apartment and gets her dried off and gives her soup. Tom finally mentions her haircut. Jane is surprised he didn’t notice it sooner because he’s gay. There has been a misunderstanding: Tom isn’t gay. They both blush and continue to do jigsaw puzzles. Because she thought Tom wasn’t available, Jane allowed herself to develop a crush.
** Police Interview: One of the parents thinks Jane was cuddled up with one of the dads at trivia night, but it was just Tom, the definitely not gay barista.
Question: Did you expect Jane to find a chance at happiness in the cafe?
Chapter 69: Half an Hour Before the Trivia Night
As she’s getting ready for trivia night, Josh comes in to tell Celeste a secret. He doesn’t want to tell, but it makes him feel sad. Max has quit hurting Amabella but pushed Skye down the stairs. Again. Max and Perry come into the bedroom. Perry nonchalantly tells Celeste her property manager called and wanted to know if they could get into her apartment Monday to put new smoke alarms in.
Quote: ” . . . He was staking out the quiet little girls in the class and hurting them. Her son was a bully.”
Question: Do children see more than we think?
Chapter 70: The Trivia Night
** Police Interview: The cocktails were extremely potent and the caterer was late. Everyone was drunk.
Jane sees Madeline at trivia night. Madeline loves Jane’s new hair. Jane doesn’t quite have time to tell Madeline about Max before Tom shows up. Jane is giddy with how much she likes him. Madeline is amazed she never saw it.
Quote: “Look who’s here. The king and queen of the prom.”
Perry poses with Celeste so he can post a photo on Facebook. In the car, Celeste tells Perry Max has been bullying little girls. Perry says they will discuss it and promises to get help. Celeste tells him she and the boys will be leaving. Perry starts yelling but Renata and her husband show up.
Quote: “The boys had always been her reason to stay, but now for the first time they were her reason to leave.”
Question: How long do you think the twins have watched Perry abuse Celeste?
Tipsy, Madeline watches as Perry and Celeste arrive. They don’t look like Elvis and Audrey, they are Elvis and Audrey. Madeline acknowledges that she is acting like a bitch to Bonnie. Since she has a low tolerance for alcohol, Bonnie is getting quite drunk. She tells Madeline to let go of her anger over Nathan leaving. Someone bumps into Bonnie and she spills her drink all over Madeline’s dress.
Jane and Tom watch as everyone gets drunk. Someone snags Tom while the teacher Miss Barnes talks to Jane about how stressed she is. Parents are emailing her and showing up at her class to watch their children. She always has to be on guard. Celeste asks to talk to Jane.
Celeste sees Perry talking to other parents. She knows by the time they go home he will have forgotten his apologies and try to kill her. She and Jane step out onto the balcony where it is wet from the rain. Everything is slippery. Celeste tells Jane Max is the one who has been bullying. Jane accepts her apology. Nathan and Bonnie come outside. Celeste apologizes to them too. Skye had already told them and they have contacted the teacher. They don’t blame Celeste either.
** Police Interview: “Eight people, including the victim, were on the balcony at the time of the incident.”
Madeline steps away from parents talking about Ziggy and Renata’s affair. She tells the parent’s they are “awful people.” Renata and Madeline make their way out to the balcony. Madeline accuses Celeste of being Larry Fitzgerald. Celeste says she isn’t but admits Madeline saved Max’s life once and she could never repay her. Celeste tells Renata that Max is the one who was bullying Amabella. Renata is taken aback. She apologizes to Jane and Ziggy. Jane accepts the apology. Perry comes out to join them. He makes disparaging remarks about Celeste spending his money. Jane tells him they’ve already met, but he called himself Saxon Banks.
Quote: “The perfect marriage. The perfect life. Except Celeste was always so flustered. A little fidgety. A little edgy.”
Question: As the story unfolds it seems more and more people have taken notice of certain oddities concerning Perry and Celeste’s relationship. Do you think there were more cracks in their armor then Celeste would have liked to believe?
Celeste now remembers a story from Perry’s childhood when he lied and said he was Saxon Banks. Jane remembers a sale flyer for a home in Pirriwee in Saxon’s hotel room. She asked if he had kids and he seemed sad when he said no. Jane wanted to move back and rub it in Saxon’s face that she had a perfect little boy. Celeste throws her drink in Perry’s face and he backhands her. Renata says she’s calling the police. Bonnie looks at Perry with passion in her eyes. She tells him this is why his son hurts little girls. Perry has done this before and his sons see. She shoves him and Perry falls.
Quote: “Your children see!” screamed Bonnie. Her face was ugly with rage. “We see! We fucking SEE!”
Question: Did you expect Bonnie to push Perry?
Ed tells Renata to call the police. Renata tells Ed she didn’t see anything. Bonnie is curled in a ball, Nathan is trying to console her, but he’s scared. Madeline tells Ed she was looking inside, she didn’t see anything. Jane looks at Bonnie. She feels a cool calm. Jane tells Ed she didn’t see anything. Celeste gets up from where she had fallen. She tells Ed she didn’t see anything. Celeste walks to the edge of the stairs and tells Renata to call the police. She starts screaming. She’s had years to practice; she’s a fabulous actress. Two men from the party come outside and accidentally push Madeline and Jane. Madeline falls. Jane tastes blood and feels something snap.
Chapter 78: The Morning After Trivia Night
Madeline’s ankle is broken after the fall. Ed is in the hospital room worrying about lying. Madeline is mad at herself for not seeing Celeste was being abused. Ed says Bonnie came by with a lasagna and was totally normal. He thinks Bonnie is crazy. Madeline tells Ed it was an accident. She sees Abigail in Skye. She can’t imagine Skye not having a mother. She explains Perry was not a good person and Bonnie is not a danger to society. Nathan comes to visit. He tells them Abigail would like to move back in with them. He also wants to tell them about Bonnie’s abusive father.
Quote: “Maybe it was actually an unspoken agreement between the four women on the balcony: No woman should pay for the accidental death of that particular man.”
Question: Do you agree with the women or with Ed?
Jane tells the detective she was drunk and didn’t see anything happen. She had never met Perry before. The detective thinks she’s lying.
Bonnie comes to visit Celeste. She tells her she is going to the police to tell them the truth. Bonnie had to lie to everyone when she was growing up because her father beat her mother. When she was an adult, Bonnie went back for a visit. When Bonnie saw her father hit her mother, Bonnie ran and hid under her bed like she was a little girl. Celeste says she would have lied for her. Bonnie tells her she can stop lying now.
Quote: “I don’t hide under the bed anymore. I don’t keep secrets, and I don’t want people to keep secrets for me.”
Celeste texts Madeline that Bonnie is going to tell the truth. Madeline calls Ed before he talks to the police. Ed cries in relief and tells Madeline she shouldn’t have made him do that. Ed believes he was going to lie. Madeline knows he wouldn’t have been able to go through with it.
Ziggy gets a letter from Amabella’s mom apologizing for her actions and asking him to please come to Amabella’s going away party. It’s Star Wars themed.
Chapter 82: Four Weeks After the Trivia Night
Jane has been dodging the reporter who has been talking to her friends. She also hasn’t seen Celeste since the funeral. Tom and Jane are going for an outing since her broken collarbone is mending well. She’s frustrated because can’t seem to get back into the headspace before Perry. Jane is worried she and Tom are on track to be just friends. They go for a walk and then sit and have lunch. Tom doesn’t want to just be friends. He gives her their first kiss on a park bench.
Quote: ” . . . first kisses didn’t necessarily require darkness and alcohol, they could happen in the open air, with the sun warm on your face and everything around you honest and real and true . . . “
** Police Interviews: Renata is moving to London. The petition to remove Ziggy vanished.
Chapter 84: A Year After the Trivia Night
Bonnie didn’t go to jail. She was given community service. Abigail helped her complete her hours. Madeline is overcompensating for not realizing Celeste was being abused. She hovers over her friend with love. Celeste sets up a trust fund of equal value to the twins for Ziggy.
The twins are having problems adjusting to a life without their father. They have moved into the apartment she furnished, and Celeste works three days a week at a family law firm.
She still loves Perry and it makes her feel crazy. Celeste doesn’t want to cry although Susi tells her it is okay if she does. Celeste has agreed to talk to a group of healthcare professionals to try and help educate them about what domestic violence can look like. Celeste doesn’t expect the nervous man beside her to be the other speaker. She doesn’t expect the man to also have suffered from abuse. She wants to give him the courage to tell his story. The courage for them all to tell their story. She stands and begins to speak.
Quote: “Fuck dignity.” “This can happen to anyone.”