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The Murderer's Daughters
The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers
by Randy Susan Meyers

From the moment a father murders his wife, the lives of his two daughters are changed forever.  One daughter, Lulu, runs for help while the father attacks the other daughter, Merry.  Unwanted and abandoned by family members, Lulu and Merry struggle to survive in an orphanage.  When they are taken in by an affluent foster family, the two sisters still cling together for emotional survival.  As the two women grow, each deals differently with the scars left by their father.   Lulu cuts her father off whereas Merry becomes the caretaker of her father, visiting him in prison regularly, at the expense of her own self.   As the two become women, each struggles to cope with the imprint made on them by their father's actions.  When their father's parole nears, each sister meets challenges they never imagined in an action-filled dramatic encounter. 

THE MURDERER'S DAUGHTERS tells the story of two very different women, how they come together to protect one another and then individuate.  Randy Susan Meyers gives much psychological depth to her characters, but never at the expense of excellent storytelling.  Each sister is different despite the bonds that tie them together.  Neither feels like a stereotype.  In the author acknowledgments, Randy Susan Meyers mentions her work with fathers and dedicates this book to the children who suffer unnoticed and those who help them.  What a tribute her book is precisely because, through characterization, she paints the portraits of individual characters rather than diagnosing their issues in a psychologically trivializing manner.  Lulu's outrage and insistence on the act of murder versus domestic violence is refreshing, especially when the now popular "closure" seems at the expense of moral indignation.  Merry's need for her father's approval is painful yet realistically written, giving power to her actions at the end of the novel. 
THE MURDERER'S DAUGHTERS will appeal to many readers who have not experienced the exact circumstance of the characters but other family difficulties in varying degrees because of the author's insights into personality. 

While honoring the children to whom she pays tribute, Randy Susan Meyers does an excellent job at writing concrete characters with a detailed specificity whose appeal is also universal.  Various readers might disagree whether or not the final drama is realistic or not in terms of real life, but as a development in this story, in the fictional lives of Merry and Lulu, the last scenes are perfectly chosen. 
THE MURDERER'S DAUGHTERS is a riveting story.  Lulu and Merry easily become characters one cares about.  While the circumstances they face are horrifying, their personalities and lives drive the story forward.  Outrage at the actions of their father, not just then but throughout his imprisonment as he seeks a caretaker for himself, is well balanced by the author's ability to portray the strength, determination and brilliance of the daughters.  Randy Susan Meyers does not simplify the scars they carry but neither does she simplify the force of their character.  Each character has a brilliant force within her and indeed a beauty.  An excellent reading choice!

Publisher: St. Martin's Press (January 19, 2010)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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