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The Murderer's Daughters Hardcover – January 19, 2010
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
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. (Jan.)
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“How both sisters live, from the squalor of an orphanage to the empty silences of suburban living, is all too believable and heartbreaking because there is no acceptable answer for how to deal with one's part, as living victim, of a horrible crime” —Sarah Weinman, LA Times 'Knock-Out Debuts'
"Meyers delivers a clear-eyed, insightful story about domestic violence and survivor's guilt in "The Murderer's Daughters." It's an impressively executed novel, disturbing and convincing." —Diane White, Boston Globe
"Dives fearlessly into a tense and emotional story of two sisters anchored to one irreversible act of domestic violence. The narrative's dual narrators, Lulu and her younger sister Merry Zachariah, become innocent casualties when, in a terrifying scene relayed from Lulu's childhood perspective, their father murders their mother. Meyers painstakingly traces their lives to show just how much everyone else pays for that one act of violence.” —Christine Thomas, The Miami Herald
"Beautiful language balms the dark plot" —Daily Candy, Best New Winter Books
“The author delivers unshakable truths at every turn. . . Meyers, in a remarkably assured debut, details how the sisters process their grief in separate but similarly punishing ways." —Christian Toto, The Denver Post
"Much like Janet Fitch's White Oleander or Jacquelyn Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean, her book takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Readers, get out your handkerchief and prepare to care." — Library Journal Review
“As provocative as We Need to Talk About Kevin and as emotional as any Jodi Picoult novel.” —New Zealand Women’s Weekly
“A wonderful and thoughtful, wise novel.” —Annabelle, Germany
"A touching tale that will truly move you." —The Sun, UK
"The Murderer's Daughters is the unforgettable tale of Merry and Lulu, little sisters in sorrow, seared by their father's violence. Their heartbreaking story, which spans thirty years, will bring tears to your eyes...but there is a shining light of hope at the end of the tunnel." —Tatiana de Rosnay, New York Times bestselling author of Sarah's Key
"In her mesmerizing, empathic novel The Murderer's Daughters, Meyers explores the bond between two sisters clinging to each other in the aftermath of their mother's murder and their father's imprisonment...and how their bond is tested by the reappearance of the past. You won't be able to put it down." —Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
"This wonderful, thought-provoking novel took hold of me on page one and never let me go. With lovely prose and an uncanny delicacy for such a horrific and oftentimes unspeakable topic, Randy Susan Meyers brilliantly succeeds in telling the untold story of what happens to the children of murder victims. Alternately told through the eyes of Lulu and Merry, the story spans over 30 years and gives us a rare ?A riveting read. . . Highly recommended." —Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
"In The Murderer's Daughters Randy Susan Meyers tells the intricate and absorbing story of two sisters, one of whom regards herself as an orphan. I love the sweep of this novel, from childhood to adulthood, from pain to understanding, and how intimately Meyers knows her characters and brings them to life. I finished The Murderer's Daughters with the sense that I had been on the best kind of journey." —Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street, Winner 2009 L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award
Top customer reviews
Daughters Louise (Lulu) and Meredith (Merry) have been fending for themselves for a while, so when, in July, there is a knock on the door, Lulu tries to keep her father from entering. But he convinces her that all will be fine.
But it is not. Soon their lives are in crisis mode: their mother is dead, they are living with their maternal grandmother, Mimi Rubee, and their father is in prison.
The Murderer's Daughters is alternately narrated by Lulu and Merry, in the first person voice of each, and it carries us along through the years, revealing what happens to them. Cast aside by their maternal relatives, they find themselves in the Duffy-Parkman home for girls, since their paternal grandmother, Zelda, is in ill health.
At the time of the disaster, Merry was five and Lulu ten. They each have very different attitudes toward their father. Lulu refuses to visit, but Merry comes to count on Grandma Zelda taking her to see their father.
Even though Merry was also stabbed in the altercation, she seems to need her father. Perhaps because she was the light of his life...before.
Through the years, we follow each of them and see how the events of that summer have informed their lives. Is Lulu unable to forgive her father because she can't forgive herself? What if she hadn't opened the door? A question she asks herself. Why is Merry able to forgive her father? How does going into an upper middle class foster home, after the girls' home, affect their lives? Will they continue to feel "not good enough"?
Their relationships, or lack thereof, can be attributed to the domestic violence of their early lives, and the secrets they keep will define them in the future. In adulthood, Lulu becomes a doctor and finds a man named Drew who is understanding, supportive, and truly good, while Merry continually makes wrong choices and drinks too much.
As a probation officer, she seemingly clings to the dark side. When Merry moved into an adjacent apartment in Drew and Lulu's home in Cambridge, she seemingly inserted herself into their lives. Much of what she did seemed to suggest the symbiosis of their relationship; a symbiosis that Lulu has railed against.
In this excerpt, I find the hidden truths:
"The past trapped us. Even now, at forty-one and thirty-six, we remained prisoners of our parents' long-ended war, still ensnared in a prison of bad memories, exchanging furtive glances, secrets known and secrets buried flashing between us."
And then, finally, a frightening hostage situation at Merry's work brings everything to a head. Then, when a letter from prison informs them of the unexpected, something is altered. The chains of the past may finally slip away. Although this dark and emotionally combustible story kept me engaged, I felt that the more than thirty year span of the book did not allow for a deeply insightful look into the lives of the characters, and the narratives of the girls were limited by their unreliable perspectives. 4.0 stars.
This book is full of colorful description and relatable characters. I have never been in that situation (my dad sticks to killing flies and spiders) but I actually could understand and even relate with some of the girls' actions, outlooks on life, and insecurities as a result of this. I fell in love with both Merry and Lulu, although I wanted to strangle them both at times. This is the first book from a powerhouse-I can't wait to see what she has in store for her sophomore effort.
I hope for the writer's sake that this wasn't written from a personal perspective, as the emotional battering of the two sisters is so realistic and electric. Although the sisters react to the murder of their mother by their father in different ways, ways that cause massive complications in both of their lives, their bond remains fierce. That, at least, is a good thing in their lives.
Also one of the sisters is able to sustain a healthy marriage and have wonderful children. The only unbelievable flaw in the book for me was the pure perfectness of the husband character. Supportive, understanding, tolerant, you name it. The sisters, Lulu and Merry, are more complex and their separate psychological paths are sound, painful and believable.
Although I didn't ever get to truly like either of them, I wept with them, especially at the end. Literally wept. And I'm not a weeper.
Words like "poignant" just don't cut it for this book because it is way beyond that. It is about raw truth and how people deal with, or don't deal with it. There is nothing sappy or sugar-coated and it does not have a rainbow resolution, but it does have solid resolution.
Another aspect I found intriguing was the degree to which their horrendous history kept both sisters from forming close relationships - no female friends, etc. They relied on each other (and that darned good man, who they almost shared, it seemed)for everything. Their lives were secrets.
Lulu and Merry are Jews. This was not the typically portrayed strong Jewish family. Not only was the father a sociopathic murderer, but after the mother died, none of the relatives were empathic enough to take the girls in, so they spent a good part of their childhoods in an orphanage. The cloying and selfish Jewish relatives were parodies of family. The underbelly of the Jewish famiily.
I didn't love this book, but I did. It will be with me for a long time.