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THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTERS by Randy Susan Meyers: Book 21 of 2011 [BOOK WEEK]

I was very lucky to be introduced into a fantastic writer’s co-operative by a writer friend. Many books by these fellow authors are on my super long TBR list, including THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTERS by Randy Susan Meyers. But then I made the mistake of reading the first eleven pages of DAUGHTERS on Meyers’s website and became immediately hooked, pushing it to the front of the list. Here are my thoughts:

What It’s About: Two sisters are left with different forms of guilt after their father stabs their mother to death and almost kills the youngest sister as well.

What Makes It Different: What’s interesting is that I’ve seen a lot of stories from the abused mother’s point of view, and some stories from the abusive father’s. Every so once in a while, you’ll get one from the child, but almost never two points of views from two siblings. It reminded me that no matter the event, no matter how horrific, different characters will respond to it differently.

What I Loved: This is hard for me to talk about because you know how I am about spoilers. But the book is just very, very human and realistic. These characters are frustrating and vulnerable in ways that real people in this situation would be. The way that both sisters respond to what happened is how most people in their separate situations would probably respond to what happened. I should add that being from a two-girl family, I’m a sucker for books about two sisters. Also, I have a dead mother and issues with a living father (though not nearly this big), so there was that connection. This novel hit a number of my fascination buttons.

What I Didn’t Like: Again, without giving away spoilers, I wanted to hear more from another male character, who wasn’t their father, but seemed to mean a lot to both sisters. We get interesting pieces of dialogue from him that one would think signalled a coming conflict or plot point, but in the end, he just fades into the background. I also would have liked to have seen more development of the youngest sister’s chosen profession, which comes up in a big way during the climax.

Writing Lessons Learned

Different women should date differently: One of the great things about the two sisters is that their love lives are completely dictated by their mental lives. That is one sister yearns to be liked and the other yearns for stability. It got me to thinking about how so many women in novels tend to date in the same way, even if it’s a novel about different women. If you’re writing anything that involves dating, really pay attention to your characters psyche and think about how that would inform their love lives.

Unusual professions: One sister ends up in a profession that I’ve heard about IRL, but haven’t seen portrayed in fiction yet. This made her job instantly fascinating for me. If there’s a profession you haven’t seen portrayed in a book, but know intimately, write about that — even if it’s not the sexiest career on earth. Other people will automatically find it interesting, just because it’s new.

In between the scenes: As someone who went from screenwriting to radio writing to novel writing, I often think of novel writing as including what happens in between scenes. And Meyers does good in between the scenes work. For example when you see someone entering a prison on television, maybe you’ll have an exterior shot, then you’ll flash to a guard running a metal detector wand over the visitor, then in the next scene, the visitor will be talking to the prisoner. Sometimes we don’t even get to see their greeting or the visitor sitting down and I can think of a ton of prison scenes that just start with the visitor waiting on one side of the glass for the prisoner to pick up the phone. Meyers walks us through three decades of prisoner visits and she shows us everything that happens between the scenes. This is seriously compelling stuff. Not only do I never, ever want to have to visit a loved one in jail, but I will think about all the things they’re not showing whenever I see someone visiting someone else in prison on screenfrom now on. Meyers actually found a way to make cliche prison visitor scenes more interesting for me, and it made me think about how interesting the stuff that happens between scenes can be for the reader.

To Whom Would I Recommend this Book: Daughters Estranged from Their Fathers; Anyone with Anybody in Prison; People Struggling with Forgiveness.

Click on the book cover to buy THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTER at Amazon!