Friday, May 20, 2011
The Murderer's Daughters
Publisher's Summary. Lulu and Merry's childhood was never ideal, but on the day before Lulu's tenth birthday their father drives them into a nightmare. He's always hungered for the love of the girl's self-obsessed mother. After she throws him out, their troubles turn deadly.
Lulu's mother warned her to never let him in, but when he shows up, he's impossible to ignore. He bullies his way past ten-year-old Lulu, who obeys her father's instructions to open the door, then listens in horror as her parents struggle. She runs for help and discovers upon her return that he's murdered her mother, stabbed her sister, and tried to kill himself.
For thirty years, the sisters try to make sense of what happened. Their imprisoned father is a specter in both their lives, shadowing every choice they make. Though one spends her life pretending he's dead, while the other feels compelled to help him, both fear that someday their imprisoned father's attempts to win parole may meet success.
The Murderer's Daughters is narrated in turn by Merry and Lulu. The book follows the sisters as children, as young women, and as adults, always asking how far forgiveness can stretch, while exploring sibling loyalty, the aftermath of family violence, and the reality of redemption.
Review. There are many victims of domestic violence. There is the obvious victim: the abused spouse. And then there are the not-so-obvious victims: the children and extended family members. The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers explores the lifelong impact of domestic violence on the hidden victims, the children.
The story, told from sisters Lulu and Merry’s points-of- view, opens with their mother’s slaying at the hands of their father, Joey. The girls cope with the loss of their mother in opposite ways. Lulu, the eldest sister, is withdrawn and guilt stricken that her actions of letting Joey into the apartment caused her mother’s death and Merry’s near death (whom Joey also tried to kill). Merry, the baby is a fearful people-pleaser trying to make everyone, including her father happy.
When Joey is sent away to prison, the sisters are sent to their own prison the Duffy-Parkman Home for Girls, a grim state facility, after being cast off by extended family as the “murder’s daughters.” Year pass before Lulu and Merry escape the Dickensonian state facility and are fostered by the Cohens a wealthy, but remote family. Upon reaching adulthood Lulu and Merry continue live in the shadow of their mother’s murder and their father’s impending release from prison.
What I especially liked about The Murderer’s Daughtersis how realistic the characters seemed. A quick review of the author’s interview at the back of the book (which I highly recommend reading) reveals that the novel was inspired by a real life incident in Meyer’s life:
‘Don’t let Daddy in the house.’ That’s what my mother said to my eight-year-old sister one Saturday afternoon . . . Years later . . . my sister mentioned this . . . . ‘Remember when I let our father in the house and he tried to kill Mom?’ She swore I was there . . . but I didn’t remember any of it. As the years went by, and my sister fed me more details, the scene took root in my mind and became my memory also. I heard my father sweet-talking his way in and the echoes of my mother’s screams.
Additionally, Meyer worked for years with abusive men in the Boston based Batterer Intervention Program. Talk about researching the subject matter!
The Murder’s Daughters is an exquisitely well crafted novel!
Review copy provided courtesy of the publicist.