Title: The Good Daughter
Author: Karin Slaughter
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Reviewed by: MARIE YSABEL LANDINGIN

 

A profoundly emotional, frank, and character-driven experience.

Tailored with grim detail and witty remarks, Karin Slaughter’s The Good Daughter explores the tensions between the sisters of a family broken down by an unspeakable crime and their journey of recovery towards the truth.

Set in 1989, North Georgia, USA, we are introduced to the teenage lives of two sisters, Charlotte “Charlie” and Samantha “Sam” Quinn. These brilliant daughters are raised by their somewhat unconventional parents; their father Rusty – an infamous defence attorney representing those on the wrong side of the law – and their genius mother affectionately called Gamma. We soon discover that there are harsh consequences to having a father standing with criminals and the generally unpopular.

Case One: A Molotov cocktail delivered to your home.

Shortly after, Case Two: Becoming accidental victims of a vicious attack at their new home. Two masked men. Their mother left dead. Years of suffering mental and physical wounds.

Fast forward twenty-eight years, Charlie and Sam are now lawyers leading completely different lives, each entangled in their own problems. What happened in 1989 is a painful memory left comfortably and quietly ignored. Then a school shooting with a supposedly innocent murderer cuts into their lives, forcing the sisters to confront the past that they ran away from.

Sure, call it crime fiction. After all, there is a considerable focus on nitty-gritty details set in the world of lawyers, policemen, and politics. However, it is the colourful characters, the dynamics between Charlie and Sam, their internal conflicts, and the inherent family drama which truly pump the heart of this novel. That is what makes this story truly compelling.

This novel packs a punch (or should I say that it packs a bunch?). The crime fiction skeleton of The Good Daughter is fleshed out with a story about family, love, truth, grief, guilt, regret, sacrifice, survival, recovery, and forgiveness. Slaughter even adds a thoughtful layer to the story through subtle and piquant critiques on the legal system, politics, and the hostility of society. This novel isn’t afraid to question the status quo.

The Good Daughter is not a light read. It’s heavy. Shrewd. Gritty. A handful to deal with. Literally – at times I found the thick five-hundred-paged book a bit big to hold comfortably (it made for some interesting bus trips!). I’ll admit that there are some moments which were a tad long-winded for my liking. Also, beware, there are some quite disturbing and grisly scenes which Slaughter makes no attempt to gloss over.

The Good Daughter is an arresting and commendable story from Karin Slaughter. A story that really prompts you to think and to question everything. Then leaves you uncomfortably empty once it’s over.

 

MARIE YSABEL LANDINGIN is known by many names, from childhood nicknames to a certain tropical fruit. She has a massive list of things to do, but should probably get some sleep first. An open-minded urban planning student aspiring to somehow change the world for the better. Check out more of her work for TEARAWAY:

The Art Kit

Ten Steps to Living Green

Ten Tips for Getting Super Organised

Ten Fresh Eco-Friendly Christmas Gift Ideas

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