Randy Susan Meyers debuts tomorrow — Tuesday, January, 19, 2010 — with her highly anticipated and widely acclaimed novel, The Murderer’s Daughters. And, while a poignantly bittersweet cover depicts the title’s characters running alone across a boardwalk, please know that their steps are only the beginning of a 30 year journey of accepting the past and moving on to the future.
For as the back of the Advanced Readers’ Edition proclaims:
THEIR MOTHER ASKED THE IMPOSSIBLE.
THEIR FATHER DID THE UNTHINKABLE.
AND WHAT HAPPENS TO 10-YEAR OLD LULU AND HER YOUNGER SISTER, MERRY, YOU’LL NEVER FORGET.
The Praise for The Murderer’s Daughters includes:
“Randy Susan Meyers’s sensitive story about the legacy of domestic violence is painful to read at times, but unforgettable. Meyers delivers a clear-eyed, insightful story about domestic violence and survivor’s guilt in “The Murderer’s Daughters.” It’s an impressively executed novel, disturbing and convincing.”—Boston Globe
“Meyers’ empathetic, socially conscious debut considers the burdens carried and eventually shed by two sisters, survivors of domestic violence. Ten-year-old Lulu and eight-year-old Merry are caught up in adult turmoil when their father murders their mother in July 1971. Over the subsequent three decades, Lulu feels ineradicable guilt for letting him into the apartment that day and takes on the responsibility of protecting her sister. Eminently readable . . . with affecting moments and insights.”—Kirkus Review
“Mesmerizing…empathetic…Meyers explores the bond between two sisters…and how their bond is tested by the reappearance of the past.”—Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us.”
In The 7 Question Interview with Randy Susan Meyers @WritingRaw.com, the author — when asked if there is something she would like to say to her readers — states:
“Yes, more than anything, I hope The Murderer’s Daughters provides a page turning and
thoughtful read. I hope the “what ifs’ in the story engage readers. I believe that I have
a covenant with them, to provide a story that is honestly and deeply written and which
is meant to touch, and to entertain, and inform them.”
And very personal “what if’s” are why Randy wrote the book:
“When my sister was eight, my mother warned her against letting my father into our Brooklyn apartment. Perhaps she also cautioned me, but I was barely five and can’t remember. Years later, as adults, when my sister and I began exploring our childhood in the way siblings do-comparing scars and recollections, piling up wrongs and shining up the funny stories-my sister said:
‘”Remember when I let our father in the house and he tried to kill Mom?”‘
“She swears I was there (where else would I be at that age?) but I didn’t remember any of it. As the years went by, and my sister fed me more details, the scene rooted in my mind and became my memory also. I heard my father sweet-talking his way in. My mother’s screams echoed.”
Please read the entire Backstory.
That backstory evolved into this synopsis:
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.
The Murderer’s Daughters is narrated in turn by Merry and Lulu. The book follows the sisters as children, as young women, and as adults, always asking how far forgiveness can stretch, while exploring sibling loyalty, the aftermath of family violence, and the reality of redemption.
You may also read Chapter 1.
Minor *spoiler alert*: For those hesitant that this novel may prove too dark and/or violent, please be assured that all the physical violence is contained in Chapter 1. In a sense that first chapter acts as the novel’s backstory — the unthinkable has been committed and now it’s the daughters’ story of surviving the consequences.
This is a gorgeous novel — with breathtaking writing — about one of the most vile of all crimes. Often described as an “act of passion,” the killing of a spouse/partner ironically is in deed a love lost.
Consider how often newscasts or newspaper report such murders. How commonplace they have become, leaving us to sigh, shake our heads at “how sad,” and then to forget. Yet do your thoughts linger a bit longer when learning “the children have been taken in by family”, or are “in foster care?” That information is given to comfort, to let us know that the children are being taken care of…they’re safe, they’re fine.
What Randy Susan Meyers reminds us is nothing could be further from the truth. The guilt, shame and painful loss of both parents will last — in some degree — forever, affecting not only childhood but adulthood too. Lulu and Merry try to heal and hide from their emotional scars by coping in different ways, but neither can outrun the past. Only accepting what is as it is can ease their burden of being a murderer’s daughter.
Using her informed working background with batterers, domestic violence victims, and at-risk youth impacted by family violence, this debut novelist tells a sensitive and very genuine tale of intense pain, anger, and the challenge to lead a normal life.
Randy Susan Meyers writes with her heart about hope of the human soul. You’ll find that and more in The Murderer’s Daughters. Please take them home with you…
Book Giveaway: Yes The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of The Murderer’s Daughters to anyone who leaves a comment on this post and is selected in a random drawing. The deadline is Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EST. with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post.