Lulu and Merry's childhood was never ideal, but on the day before Lulu's tenth birthday their father propels them into a nightmare. He's always hungered for the love of the girls' self-obsessed mother; after she throws him out, their troubles turn deadly.
Lulu had been warned not to let her father in, but when he shows up drunk, he's impossible to ignore. He bullies his way past Lulu, who then listens in horror as her parents struggle. She runs for help, but discovers upon her return that he has murdered her mother, stabbed her five-year old sister, Merry, and tried, unsuccessfully, to kill himself.
Lulu and Merry are effectively orphaned by their mother's death and father's imprisonment. The girls' relatives refuse to care for them and abandon them to a terrifying group home. Even as they plot to be taken in by a well-to-do family, they come to learn they'll never really belong anywhere or to anyone -- that all they have to hold on to is each other.
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. One spends her life pretending he's dead, while the other feels compelled -- by fear, by duty -- to keep him close. Both dread the day his attempts to win parole may meet with success.
A beatifully written, compulsively readable debut, The Murderer's Daughters is a testament to the power of family and the ties that bind us together and tear us apart.
This book was a difficult one for me to read. Working in law enforcement, I am aware that there are more than two people effected by most domestic violence situations. It is a sad fact that the children in the family are the ones that are sometimes hurt more by what the parents do to each other. The author of the book even mentions these children in the acknowledgments at the back of the book. The story is told from the viewpoint of both sisters as they grow up, you feel how each one has been scarred in her own way. The ending was different than I had imagined it might be, but it is one that gave me a good feeling of hope that the sisters would be okay in the end.