NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Murderer's Daughters

3.0 out of 5 stars Escaping a shocking act of domestic violence..., October 21, 2010

I was quite disappointed in this uneven, overly slow novel that never seemed to go anywhere. The premise was interesting -- two sisters struggle through a series of sad and depressing events after their father murders their mother, attempts to stab and kill one of the sisters, and continues to torture them emotionally and disrupt their lives from his jail cell. I believe some have remarked upon a similarity to Janet Fitch's heartbreakingly beautiful novel, White Oleander (Oprah's Book Club), but I did not see much similarity beyond the basic facts that in both books a parent committed a murder and went to prison and also both tried to manipulate their children while incarcerated.

Told in first person alternating voices, this novel tells the tale of Lulu and Merry - the murderer's two daughters who witnessed his crime against them and who try to escape being known and defined by his act. Taunted at school, in the home of relatives and later in an orphanage, the girls can't seem to get away from the horror of their childhood abuse and the stain that violence left upon them. The sisters are as different as night from day as they deal with the trauma and suffer various types of post-traumatic reactions. The two behave quite stereotypically with the older sister taking on the reliable, responsible maternal role and the younger Merry becoming a bit off balance, promiscuous, and developing an addictive type personality. They remain close although constantly trying to hide their past, shielding Lulu's children from the knowledge that they have a grandfather in prison, and fighting about Merry's continued relationship with their father whom she visits at the penitentiary.

The narrative continues through the course of their young adult lives as each sister struggles to find her place in the world and to leave her past behind. Their bond is threatened when their father announces that he's about to be released from prison. Will the sisters be able to forgive him and accept him back into their lives? What, after all, is the nature of family and how strong is a pull toward a biological parent no matter how "bad" they have behaved? Can anyone remain unaffected after a shocking act of domestic violence and become whole again? These are all questions that the reader might ponder while reading. I personally didn't like the way the book ended, but perhaps others might have found more profound meaning in the conclusion. No new revelations here!

1 comment:

  1. I liked this one myself. I didn't like the ending much either, but I thought it was pretty good overall.