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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Murderer's Daughters: An Adult Novel with YA Appeal

Have you heard of The Murderer's Daughters, by Randy Susan Meyers? It's coming out in paperback today, so I thought I'd devote some air time to it. Mainly since I have not stopped thinking about this novel since I read it, and I've read three other books since!

First, a confession. As a relatively new mom, I hesitated at first to read a story about domestic violence and its aftermath. These days I'm skittish about stories of children placed in dangerous situations. And this story doesn't hold back on danger. In the opening chapters, an alcoholic man turns on his family, killing his wife and attacking one of his young daughters. 

But I was quickly pulled into this novel, as is not so much about violence as it is about resilience. It explores how the daughters, Lulu and Merry, attempt to rebuild their lives over the ensuing decades, particularly how they deal with having a father in prison. At a point, the lies they tell the world and themselves in order to cope are put to the test. The girls must make difficult moral choices about how to reconstruct their family narrative. 
It's a fascinating study of how their survival skills and emotional coping strategies change over time, particularly when one daughter has children of her own, drastically raising the stakes. 

A great strength of this novel is its roster of realistic, psychologically complex characters. Yes, there are murderers and batterers roaming these pages. Yet the men are portrayed not so much as monsters, but as people who commit "monstrous deeds." 

This is a fascinating psychological study, a story of two of the strongest girls you'll ever meet in fiction, and, above all, a keep-you-up-all-night-page-turner. And if you're looking for a book with YA/adult crossover interest (for mature YA readers, anyway), this is a good one. A large portion of the novel portrays the girls coping and rebuilding their lives during their tween and teen years. Even the characters in their adult years, I would argue, are of interest to teens because the moral choices the adults make impact the family's next generation. 

Here's the book trailer:



What are some other "adult" novels you know of with the potential for YA appeal?
 

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