Monday, May 16, 2011

Julie's Review: The Murderer's Daughters

The Murderer's Daughters Summary: This solid novel begins with young Lulu finding her mother dead and her sister wounded at the hands of her alcoholic father, who has failed at killing himself after attacking the family. Meyers traces the following 30 years for Lulu and her sister, Merry, as they are sent to an orphanage, where Lulu turns tough and calculating, searching for a way into an adoptive family. Eventually, Lulu becomes a doctor specializing in the almost old, though her secretiveness about her past causes new rifts to form in her new family. Meanwhile, Merry becomes a victim witness advocate, but her life is stunted; she's dependant on Lulu, drugs and alcohol, and she can't find love because she usually want[s] whoever wants me. In the background, their imprisoned father looms until a crisis that eerily mirrors the past forces Lulu and Merry to confront what happened years ago. Though the novel's sprawling time line and undifferentiated narrative voices—the sisters narrate in rotating first-person chapters—hinder the potential for readers to fall completely into the story, the psychologically complex characters make Meyers's debut a satisfying read.

Review: I had been hearing/reading a lot about this book via blogs and so when I could request it through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers I went for it. The Murderer's Daughters is a heart-wrenching story about how one event forever shapes the lives of a family. The story is told through the eyes of Lulu and Merry over 30 years. Each girl/young woman/woman has her own voice, own characteristics so it was never an issue telling them apart. You go through their journey through them as they lead you through their struggles and then through their triumphs.

Each sister is messed up in ways that just aren't comprehensible to someone who hasn't lived through a tragedy. Lulu puts up a wall and doesn't let any one penetrate it. She lives in a world where her dad only exists through Merry. She long ago made up the story that her parents died in a car accident. She has survived her life by living this lie. But she's never really lived. She's always been closed off, been a prisoner in her lies. She has always needed to be the strong one, the right one, the "together" one. She is any thing but together and slowly her life starts to unravel. Can she rebuild it? Can she survive the truth?

Merry, the younger, prettier one and daddy's girl. Merry is the one that dedicates her life to dad. To visiting him, to thinking about him in jail, to dedicating her life to him. She's self destructive, self-absorbed and extremely lost. Since Lulu won't ever visit her father, Merry feels like it's on her to keep up the facade of a family.

I found both girls fascinating and heartbreaking. Both were self-destructive but in different ways. Merry's was more outward, where as Lulu was more internal. Which one is worse? Who knows, it depends on the person. Lulu has thought for 30+ years that her mother's death was her fault. Where Merry has spent the same time not confronting the real truth about her father. These two have an extremely co-dependent relationship but in ways it is understandable. They feed off of each other and can be toxic at times. Deep down they love each other but they don't understand each other.

Both of them grow and come to terms with their family past. Will they ever be truly healed? Maybe not. They will at least be able to lay their past to rest and find some peace.

Ms. Meyers weaves quite a story. One that is wonderful, haunting and heart-wrenching. She has a gifted way of making you understand both sisters and their struggles. To think that children deal with these issues in real life makes the problems you deal with look small and less significant.

I don't think I have read a book like The Murderer's Daughters. It is truly unique and wonderful. I urge all of you to read this book. I for one, will not forget it.

Final Take: 5/5



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