Real Life & Liars


As a wilted flower child, Mira Zielinski has never been one to follow orders. Not from her husband, not from her boss – not even from her oncologist. Mira has her own idea about handling her newly diagnosed breast cancer, and it does not involve hopping up on the operating table. Her grown children will no doubt object — when she gets around to telling them.

As they come home for the weekend of Mira and Max’s thirty-fifth wedding anniversary party, her kids harbor some secret trials. Middle child Ivan’s lifelong desire to be a songwriter is withering on the vine after years of futility and his dating haplessness is so familiar, it’s almost a family joke. The impulsive and very young youngest child Irina will walk in the door with a surprise groom, though she’s already looking for the escape hatch in her shiny new marriage. As for the oldest, Katya, let’s just say that it would be a relief if her husband’s big secret were just the affair she suspects he’s having. As these trials unfold, certain family truths come to light but will they shake Mira’s resolve?


“With ease and grace, Riggle walks the fine line between sentimentality and comedy, and she has a sure hand in creating fun, quirky characters. Humorous and humane storytelling makes this much better than the standard cancer tear-jerker.”
Publishers Weekly

“A moving and accomplished first novel about a family coming to terms with change.”

“A compulsively readable, rip-your-heart-out portrait of a family in crisis. These characters live and breathe, making you feel as wicked as if you’d reached through Mirabelle’s window, peeled back the dusty curtain, and had a good spy. Powerful, complex, utterly unforgettable.”
—Tish Cohen, author of Town House and Inside-Out Girl

“In Kristina Riggle’s moving debut, REAL LIFE & LIARS, she poignantly portrays the inner workings of a family faced by crisis. Funny, sad, and utterly believable, these are characters that seem like old friends. Pull up a beach chair and grab your towel. Kristina Riggle is poised to become the Luanne Rice of the Great Lakes.”
—Elizabeth Letts, author of Family Planning

“This book has heart, and makes you keep turning the page long after you should have turned out the light. The Zielinski family becomes your own. But it’s afterwards, when you put it down, that you realize the truth of the old saying: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Kristina Riggle gets it exactly right in this wonderful and heartwarming debut.”
—Becky Motew, author of Coupon Girl

“In her wondrously affecting debut novel REAL LIFE & LIARS, Kristina Riggle accomplished something authors almost never do anymore: she made me care about her characters – and what a wide-ranging cast of characters they are! She made me want good things for them. A must-read for summer 2009.”
—Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes

“Kristina Riggle makes a dazzling debut with REAL LIFE & LIARS. A beautiful exploration of the intricacies that draw families together even while pulling them apart, her masterfully drawn characters, deeply moving plot, and eloquent prose will have readers demanding more, and quickly, from this confident new author. Real Life and Liars is a must read.”
—Kristy Kiernan, author of Catching Genius and Matters of Faith

“Written with grace, passion, and insight, REAL LIFE & LIARS is a deeply felt novel that draws a vivid portrait of a family in transition, and examines the very real fear of leaving behind all you hold dear.”
—Maggie Dana, author of Beachcombing

“A poignant tale of a family made up of real and flawed characters, which reveals the tangled ties that connect generations and siblings. A deeply moving novel, written with sensitivity, that touches the human spirit.”
—Carrie Kabak, author of Cover the Butter

“REAL LIFE & LIARS is a complex and masterfully layered family saga with a sassy, pot-smoking protagonist facing breast cancer in her own feisty way at the center, who I couldn’t help but adore and cheer for. But every character in Kristina Riggle’s page-turning novel is equally compelling and every page is written with compassion and honesty and psychological insight. This is a debut writer to watch.”
—Gail Konop Baker, author of the memoir Cancer is a Bitch (Or, I’d Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis)