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The Good Sister Paperback – October 1, 2010
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
A mother on trial for the attempted murder of her children opens Campbell's piercing latest. The story shifts back in time to explore Simone Duran's childhood with her sister, Roxanne, and their self-absorbed mother and also Simone's life as a stay-at-home mom suffering from postpartum depression. Simone's neglect of infant daughter Olivia, who she lets lie in her crib crying for hours on end, tears at the heart, but while Simone's mothering is disturbing, Campbell (Blood Orange) highlights the underlying factors that have pushed Simone to this edge, giving the story balance. Simone's macho husband prevents her seeking treatment while he imposes pregnancy after pregnancy on her in his desire to finally have a son. Add Roxanne's overprotectiveness of Simone, and you have a completely dependent woman. Campbell burns through Simone's struggles and also those of Roxanne in haunting, graphic detail. This portrait of the inner life of a woman whose psychotic state led her to believe that killing her children and herself would have been best for all of them should be on everyone's book club list.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Roxanne has always been responsible for her sister, Simone. Their absentee father and abusive mother ensured that the girls would rely on each other. When the unstable Simone marries a wealthy man, it seems Roxanne’s caretaking job is over, and she begins to fashion a new life for herself. Unfortunately, the stress of multiple pregnancies and episodes of postpartum depression make things worse for Simone. The novel opens with Simone’s trial for the attempted murder of three of her children, which weakens suspense and makes it hard for the reader to become invested in the childrens' fate. The unrealistic survival of the children may have been written to ensure that the character remains sympathetic, but it would have been more interesting to see if sympathy could be maintained for a damaged woman who was successful in her attempts at murder. A note from the author describes her own family’s struggle with postpartum depression, and a reading group guide makes this a natural for book groups. --Marta Segal Block
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Roxanne has spent her adult life trying to forge some level of independence for both herself and her sister, yet cannot seem to break away, even at the potential cost of her own marriage.
This is a timely subject, post partum depression/ psychosis is more common than most people think and effects people at all socio economic levels. Most people have a lot less sympathy for a wealthy women who can afford to have household help and Simone was such a controversial offender, in part, because of her wealth.
The parts about Simone and Roxanne's childhood went a long way to explain how they ended up in the roles that the played in life.
I loved that Drusilla Campbell painted Johnny (Simone's husband) to be a 3 dimensional character. He was quite unlikable in places, yet in other places, he was almost loveable. Their mother Ellen was also well written, at times she seemed totally irredeemable and yet, she also had her moments of good.
I really loved little Merrell. She was smart, perceptive, funny and very in charge. She kept things running but deserved much better. She was quickly becoming an adult in a child's body. I just wanted to slow this down for her.
The crying baby felt so real for me. My oldest was a crier and was not a sleeper at all. I could sympathize with the fact that nobody in the house ever got any peace. It really puts anyone on edge.
Although it dealt with a very disturbing topic, the author handled the attempted murder scene quite well; without any unnecessary description or sensationalized details.
WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
This was a good book. There wasn't a lot that didn't work for me. I guess it frustrated me that no one forced Simone to get any mental help until it was almost too late. With all these people around her and all the money and education they had, you would have thought someone would have seen it coming.
First off, I really like the author. She paints an interesting picture and her story is easy to follow and become immersed in. I really enjoyed the throw-back aspect of the girl's childhood and the relationship with mom and grandma. However, I just didn't see how the rest of the book fit together. Yes, we know one of the main characters has a mental illness. Yes, we know she has "issues," but these were never adequately explained. I would have liked to hear more about her history and how this impacted her sister, husband, mother, etc. To me it seemed like a selfish and childish woman rather than a woman who is mentally ill or of borderline intelligence. Also, I didn't particularly like any of the other characters, either- so maybe that's why it has been hard to reflect on the underlying messages of the book.
I don't know... I would read another one of her books but I'm not sure I would recommend this particular read to any of my friends. It's good, but not great. And the reader is sort of left with alot of unanswered questions and alot of gaps within the relationships and overall story line. I know I was left with a "what was the point of that book?" kind of mentality and even as I sit here and write this review, I still feel that way.
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Wished I knew about it when I had my own children...