Monday, August 2, 2010
The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers
Lulu and Merry's childhood was never ideal, but on the day before Lulu's tenth birthday their father drives them into a nightmare. He's always hungered for the love of the girl's self-obsessed mother. After she throws him out, their troubles turn deadly.
Lulu's mother warned her to never let him in, but when he shows up, he's impossible to ignore. He bullies his way past ten-year-old Lulu, who obeys her father's instructions to open the door, then listens in horror as her parents struggle. She runs for help and discovers upon her return that he's murdered her mother, stabbed her sister, and tried to kill himself.
For thirty years, the sisters try to make sense of what happened. Their imprisoned father is a specter in both their lives, shadowing every choice they make. Though one spends her life pretending he's dead, while the other feels compelled to help him, both fear that someday their imprisoned father's attempts to win parole may meet success.
This was another one of those books that while the synopsis from the book sounded good (which is why I agreed to read it), it didn't really do the book justice. For some reason, and I'm not sure why, I was expecting a book that would have concentrated more on the father and that the story would some how revolve around him. And while his actions acted as the pivot point in the story, this was more about Lulu and Merry and how they chose to deal with their tragic past.
Lulu is the eldest daughter and like most older children (myself included) she tended to internalize her emotions and not really deal with them on the surface. When they were still children, Lulu took the responsibility for making sure Merry was taken care of and protected. When they were sent to the orphanage by her mother's sister who refused to take care of them any longer because of what their father did, it was Lulu who became the tough sisters to allow Merry to remain a little girl.
As an adult, Lulu never told anyone about her father. Instead she would tell them that her parents died in car crash, she even made Merry tell that lie to everyone she met. Psychologically, Lulu was the more interesting of the two to read about. I guess it's because I'm a lot like her in how she dealt with things. As a kid, while my father never took it the level of Lulu's, my dad wasn't exactly the nicest guy on the street. The few memories I have of him are heavily laced with violence and it took me years to deal with it. I would never talk about him and when he passed away when I was 8, I never cried. I actually didn't cry until my Freshman year in high school and even then it was years later that I even wanted to visit his grave. So I understand Lulu's reluctance to discuss or even deal with her past, who wants people judging them for something they had no control over. And as both Lulu and myself found out, children and even some adults will judge you based on those events in your past that they don't understand.
Even in the way she finally lets what happened out to someone else, her behavior was similar to mine. When she meets Drew, her future husband, she finally feels she can tell someone about her father. And while some readers may think it was rather soon and out of character for her to tell him the morning after they hook up for the first time, I completely understood it. When you meet someone that you feel that comfortable and secure with, even if only for a short period of time, you want to let it all out. You want to talk about it to someone who didn't know you then. It's a relief to relax and let someone else in on your secret.
This was a brilliant book that dealt with the emotional and psychological impact of childhood violence and one that I connected with on so many levels. The author, in my opinion, captured two distinct and valid ways that children internalize and cope with traumatic experiences and how it impacts them as adults. Reading this book actually helped me reanalyze my own feelings about my father and I'm grateful for it. I would encourage everyone to read this book, but I would implore anyone else who experienced horrific events as children to pick this one up and understand that you aren't alone, that there are many of us out there who do understand what you went through and how that has made you into the person you are today.
Please take the time to visist Randy Susan Meyers' website to learn more about her and her book.
Visit the TLC Book Tour Page to visit the other blog stops on the tour.