Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little, published August 2014 by Vintage Publishing.
Read: January 2015
Source: Publisher – this does not affect my opinion of this book.
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads Synopsis: LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.
Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she’s been released on a technicality she’s determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America’s media on her tail, convinced she’s literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent. She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?
When I requested this title, it’d been a while since I’d read a great thriller, and the synopsis of this one just drew me in. This is definitely reminiscent of Gone Girl in style – we have an unreliable and intentionally unlikable female MC who can be feisty and bold, but who intrigues you in trying to figure her out – she’s tricky! The mystery element of this book was strong, I was kept guessing right until the end, and I found the story to be pretty satisfying overall.
At times I found the MC to be particularly harsh, while the writing is sharp and the story intense, there were a few instances where I was made to feel uncomfortable. This was likely intentional, but occasionally it felt a bit much. To me, it read that in order to believe Janie was capable of killing her mother she had to be portrayed as particularly evil, vindictive and cunning, which could feel slightly forced.
Janie has that spoiled-little-rich-girl vibe going on, but she comes across as very smart and independent, which made me have a massive love-hate relationship with her. I can see this being problematic for some readers who can’t gel with unlikable characters, but they fascinate me. Janie is every psychologists dream!
A lot of the characters in this book were memorable and well-developed, and I really enjoyed the story-line and plot – it was slower paced than I’m used to for a thriller, but it was well thought out and nicely detailed. One of these details is that at the start of each chapter there is an excerpt from a newspaper/website/other source that feeds into the story really well. I thought it was a really great addition to the book that gave it an edge.
“You can get away with anything if you wear great clothes, throw great parties, and give money to kids with cleft palates.”
“Thank god for my Swiss Army Knife. Multi-tools are like insults, girls—you should always have one on hand.”
“Karma’s a bitch. And so’s Janie Jenkins.”
Have you read Dear Daughter? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
Hmmm not sure what to think after reading this review LOL. I like being able to sympathise with my MC but, I guess you’re right, you need to be able to believe that Janie is capable of murder. So it’s hard to do that AND make her sympathetic!
LOL is that good or bad? I’m not sure! I don’t mind not liking the MC – but in this case it was tricky because it felt a little forced, like hyperbolising the personality aspects that make her “bad”, but of course, we don’t know if she did it or not, so is she a bitch capable of murder, or just a bitch? Interesting combo! R x
I’m one of those said readers who find it hard to gel with unlikable characters. But maybe I just need a really well-developed anti-hero or whatever to change my mind.
Great review!! 😀
Thanks, Rachel. I couldn’t really talk about that issue as much as I’d have liked without spoiling the book – but anyone who reads it will probably know what my main problem is! Lol R x
[…] to write now! Check out my reviews of Between the Lives (3.5), Maybe Someday (Reread at 4.5), Dear Daughter (3.5), How (Not) to Fall in Love (4), All The Light We Cannot See (2.5), Be Safe I Love […]
[…] hard to believe that this is a debut. The style of the novel is reminiscent of both Gone Girl and Dear Daughter, with unreliable narrators and unlike-able characters […]