Monday, July 21, 2014
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
2.5 out of 5 stars - "My recklessness was a demonstration of restraint. I spun in circles to prove I could walk a straight line after."
"You can get away with anything if you wear great clothes, throw great parties, and give money to kids with cleft palates."
Jane Jenkins was 17 when she was arrested, tried and convicted of shooting her mother -- wealthy socialite and philanthropist, Marion Elsinger -- and is released from prison 10 years later on a technicality due to irregularities in the collection of evidence. As soon as she is let out, she goes undercover to solve a mystery: who actually did kill her mother because Jane can't remember. She changes her appearance and her name and sets off with the only clue she knows, the name of a small mining town in South Dakota -- Adeline. Once there, she enlists the help of the close knit community, who are all sort of related, to figure things out.
The story flips around backward and forward in time, has little blurbs that are styled as tweets, Wikipedia entries, or media asides, and has a narrator in Jane who is completely unbelievable and over-the-top with her supposed whip smart bad ass foul-mouthed personality. The mystery is lame and there was no suspense, no threat of any real danger, and no thrills. The big climax is entirely predictable and the ending defies any suspension of disbelief that a reader had been striving to maintain throughout the story.
I am at a loss to explain all the rave reviews. I'd say the contrived plot and all the pop culture commentary would appeal to teenage girls, however the language and intensely unlikable main character with her actions and choices make it one I wouldn't recommend to that audience. I had a lot of difficulty with how completely unrealistic and implausible the whole scenario was. And it was never explained how in the world Jane didn't know whether or not she had actually killed her mother so we're to believe she is so clever (and she reminds us often) that she can track down the real murderer.
So, in short, I didn't care for it. Perhaps it was because I have been reading such incredibly great thrillers lately, or maybe I'm snarky, but this IT girl bored me to tears and I didn't care a bit, almost didn't even finish it. No recommendations here.
Thank you to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Viking for the e-book ARC to review.