The title tells the readers everything they need to know. The Murderer's Daughters begins with nine year old Lulu running for help while her drunk father kills her mother and stabs her 5 year old sister, Merry. The year was 1971, their mother was dead and their father in jail. When their grandmother couldn't take them in, and their aunt and uncle didn't want them, they were sent to an orphanage. Their nightmare wasn't over.
What follows is the two girls' story of survival - or something very close to it - over a period of time spanning 30 years. I can promise you, there was no skipping along the Boardwalk holding onto balloons.
I had a hard time getting through The Murderer's Daughters. I did not run back to it when I had a free moment to read, and it took me quite a while to finish the 320 pages. This novel didn't call to me - not because it wasn't well written or emotionally effective, but I had a hard time picking up this book because it was so utterly heartbreaking. I ached with such sorrow for Merry and Lulu, I hurt with every bad thing that happened to them, and I cringed at every bad decision they made.
I was reading The Murderer's Daughters one morning while waiting for friends to join me for breakfast. They saw me with the book and asked if I liked it. My first instinct was to say, "No." But, it wasn't that I didn't LIKE the novel, but instead I think a more accurate thing to say would be that I didn't enjoy reading it, the same way I didn't enjoy reading Room by Emma Donoghue or Still Missing by Chevy Stevens. Amazing novels, all of them, but to read of the sisters' struggle through life was not easy.
Not once was the emotion overdone or exaggerated, though. The subtlety of the drama was too real, so believable, I couldn't help but wonder if it weren't a memoir. What I found MOST impressive was what Meyers DIDN'T say. It was the emotion between the words that blew me away. I could tell her debut novel was a labour of love for Randy Susan Meyers.
Publisher: St. Martin's (February 11, 2011)
About the Author: (from author's website)
The dark drama of Randy Susan Meyers' debut novel is informed by her years of work with batterers, domestic violence victims, and at-risk youth impacted by family violence. In Brooklyn, where Randy was born and raised, her local library was close enough to visit daily and she walked there from the time she figured out the route. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith was the only bible Randy ever owned, her personal talisman of hopefulness. Each time she read it, she was struck anew by how this author knew so much and dared to write it. Randy now lives in Boston with her husband and is the mother of two grown daughters. She teaches writing seminars at the Grub Street Writers’ Center in Boston.
*Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.