I just finished reading Randy Susan Meyers' The Murderer's Daughters for one of the book clubs I'm involved in. This was our June pick, though we had to extend it to July due to everyone having such a packed month and being unable to finish it. I was happy when this book was chosen because it's been on my To Read list for awhile and I just hadn't gotten around to actually reading it.
As the title suggests, the story follows the lives of Lulu and Merry, the daughter's of a murderer who just happened to kill their mother and tried to kill Merry and himself while at it, and spans thirty years of their lives. As would be expected, their lives are anything but normal. Immediately after the murder, their father is thrown in jail and the girls go to live with their maternal grandmother. When she dies they are foisted onto their mother's sister and her husband only to be shoveled out to an orphanage quite quickly. They experience several disturbing situations while living at the orphanage and it is during this time that their personalities and means of survival really develop.
Once the girls are fostered out of the orphanage, their luck changes in terms of monetary gain. Yet this gain does nothing for their emotional well-being. Lulu becomes more angry and defiant, relying on nobody but herself and controlling everything she can. On the other hand, Merry becomes the prized doll of the foster family; the one child who constantly strives for approval and to be wanted. These personality traits follow the girls into adulthood and definitely shape how they run their lives.
As time goes by, Merry continues to visit their father while Lulu refuses to acknowledge his existence. Both of these reactions act as the girls' coping mechanism with the tragedy of their past. The death of their mother, as can be expected, completely disallows the girls the ability to live a "normal" life, yet they make the best of it.
In the end, I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. I liked how Meyers told the story from both of the girls' perspectives and spanned the years to show the development and growth that both went through. The one thing that I didn't like was the end. It left me wanting to know what was in the boxes. Overall, worth the read.