The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
One ran. One stayed. But who is…the good daughter?
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s childhoods were destroyed by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – a notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family consumed by secrets from that shocking night.
Twenty-eight years later, Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer. But when violence comes to their home town again, the case triggers memories she’s desperately tried to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family won’t stay buried for ever…
The novel opens at the temporary farmhouse residence of the two teen sisters Samantha and Charlotte aka Charlie. Samantha is the older sister at 15yrs old and Charlie is just 13yrs old. When the novel opens in 1989, it is just a mere 8 days after the lives of the family were destroyed in an arson attack at their home. Their father Rusty is a DA and the family often receive violent threats due to the nature of the crimes he defends. The mother is known as ‘Gamma’ due to her doctorate in two science subjects. The family appears from the outside in, to be very loving but with progressive attitudes towards justice and the law.
Then one day two men appear in the kitchen and their lives are changed forever. . .
‘Promise me you’ll always take care of Charlie’
Gamma to Samantha.
The novel then jumps to the present day, 28yrs later. Charlie is now a defence lawyer herself. She makes her way to Pikeville middle school, to return a phone to a one-night stand (a teacher). When shots ring out in the background and Charlie finds herself caught up in a terrifying school shooting. . .
‘The most violent hour of her life had snapped back into her waking memory’
The shooter is teenage girl, Kelly Wilson she is just 16yrs and appears to be suffering from some form of mental break. Charlie and Mr Huckabee attempt to assist Kelly’s apprehension and prevent her from being shot by the police. They find themselves facing obstruction of justice charges and nursing bruises. Why are the police so determined to shoot dead the suspect? Is Kelly likely to see a fair trial in this small community?
‘A just society is a lawful society’
The novel is very thought-provoking with regards to school shootings. The psychology of the suspect and arresting police officers are intriguing viewpoints. The media attention and the desperate search of a motive and all fully explored.
With Kelly found nearly catatonic after arrest. Rusty is keen to act as the defence attorney. Was Kelly a victim of bullying? Any motive will offer little comfort to the families of the victims. Mr Pinkman and Lucy Alexander (8yrs) shot dead on a normal school day, in what appears to be a premeditated act of murder. .
Charlie makes her way to the suspect’s family residence. What she finds, is a family in poverty. A yearbook full of vile abusive bullying. A child with a diminished capacity and a crime just waiting to happen. . .
When Rusty is stabbed, in an attempt on his life. Charlie rushes to the hospital, it is at this point she is urged to call her sister Samantha.
The novel is cleverly written, to combine the crimes of the past with the school shooting of the present. The sisters have a very complex relationship, which has been dictated by the crime that has scarred their lives. Sam is still living with the physical and mental scars of what took place that day in 1989. The chronic pain and daily struggles have taken their toll. The physical symptoms filter over to the psychology of her survival. This novel offers a unique perspective into the story of survivors.
The sisters are strong, determined and educated. Which adds to their journey and makes their story a truly powerful one indeed. The lengths we will go to, to protect those we hold dear, is a fascinating concept for a novel.
I am the oldest female sibling, I have an older brother, five younger brothers and two younger sisters. I like to think I could muster the bravery and physical/mental strength of Sam. But I could also see how this could impact the relationships going forward. If you sacrifice yourself for your sibling, how do they ever return the gratitude? Is it right/wrong to feel morally owed something emotionally or on principal in return?
‘The truth can rot from the inside.
It doesn’t leave room for anything else’
I think this is a very powerful novel and would work perfectly for book groups. There are multiple themes for debate. I myself was quite captivated with the psychology between the sisters and what sisterhood means to various individuals. 4*