The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers
Publication Date: January 2010
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, 320 pp
Genre: General Fiction
(Received for review from Goldberg McDuffie)
Synopsis (Courtesy of Barnes & Noble):
A beautifully written, compulsively readable debut that deals with the aftermath of a shocking act of violence that leaves two young sisters with nothing but each other - in the tradition of White Oleander, this haunting novel is a testament to the power of a family and the ties that bind us together, even as they threaten to tear us apart.
Marna was "no macaroni-necklace-wearing kind of mom." She was a lipstick and perfume-wearing mother, a flirt whose estranged husband still hungered for her. After Marna kicked him out, she warned the girls never to let Daddy in the house, an admonition that tears at ten-year-old Lulu when she thinks about the day when she opened the door for her drunken father, and watched as he killed her mother, stabbed her five-year-old sister Merry and tried to take his own life.
Effectively orphaned by their mother's death and father's imprisonment, Lulu and Merry, unwanted by family members an abandoned to a terrifying group home, spend their young lives carrying more than just the visible scars from the tragedy. Even as their plan to be taken in by a well-to-do foster family succeeds, they come to learn they'll never really belong anywhere or to anyone - that all they have to hold onto is each other.
As they grow into women, Lulu holds fast to her anger, denies her father's existence and forces Merry into a web of lies about his death that eventually ensnares her own husband and daughters. Merry, certain their safety rests placating her needy father, dutifully visits him, seeking his approval and love at the expense of her own relationships. As they strive to carve lives of their own, the specter of their father, unrepentant and manipulative even from behind bars, haunts them. And when they learn he's about to be paroled, the house of cards they've built their lives on teeters on the brink of collapse.
Randy Susan Meyers has written a gripping novel that puts a human face on domestic violence and what it can do to families. Lulu and Merry are just young girls when their father brutally murders their mother and leaves Lulu dealing with the guilt of trusting him and letting him in. Not something that would be easy for a child to just get over, even if she had support from the rest of her family, which she didn't. Their relatives did not want to take them in because they were " the murderers daughters" and were somehow tainted by his crimes.
Meyers also does a remarkable job of describing the situation when a child is lost to the system. Merry and Lulu end up in an orphanage and eventually foster care. Meyers explores how children in the foster care system feel and how they strive to get the approval of their foster families but never seem to feel the love and affection that children should have in their lives. I thought both the domestic violence issues and the foster care system were very well portrayed by the author as we see Merry and Lulu over a 30 year period. We see how these issues affect them in their lives.
This book showed how the relationships in peoples lives are affected by their circumstances. Lulu becomes street wise, tough and hard and it affects her life with her husband and daughters, while Merry is a still seeking approval even trying to find it from the father who nearly killed her. Merry's sadness and Lulu's pain seem to pervade the book as we see their father still calling the shots in their lives even from prison. It was a very haunting tale and a very realistic one. Families are driven apart for many reasons and this just gives readers a glimpse of what some children have to go through.
I liked this book a lot. It was gripping and haunting, yet you were pulling for Lulu and Merry throughout. You wanted to see them succeed and live past this awful experience. It's one of those books that you will remember long after you put it down.
The Murderer's Daughter is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!