Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land – 338 pages
Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school. But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all. When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.
My Review: 4 stars
Good Me, Bad Me had me hooked from the first page of this absolute thriller. I never got bored or disengaged from this story. Basically, the plot follows Annie, a teenager who turns her serial killer mother into the police at which point she is given a new identity: Milly. Milly is sent to live with a foster family where the psychologist father, Mike, is helping Milly prepare for the trial against her mother. Mike and his wife know about Milly’s true identity but their troubled daughter Phoebe does not. This proves to be an integral part of the plot as Phoebe wages a war against an innocent Milly. This teenage drama with her foster sister tests Milly’s ability to adhere to the good person she desperately hopes she can be.
I liked Milly, from the beginning until the end, both the good and bad. Her introspection about her abuse and the darker side she believes her mother gave her is both calm and practical. At the heart of the book is the push and pull of nature versus nurture. Can Milly start a new life away from her mother, or is she doomed to follow in her footsteps, as her mother had tried to raise her?
Not many books focus on women serial killers, and not many are written from the perspective of that killer’s daughter, who although turned her mother in, still misses her. Thankfully, not too many details are revealed in regards to the violence that took place. Land uses this to her advantage, as nothing is scarier than our own imaginings of it.
In the beginning, the writing of the book was a bit hard to follow. Milly is the narrator, but she is addressing her mother, rather than the reader. As the dialogue is mostly in her head, the sentences were often just one or two words. Of course this became easy to get used to and ultimately put me inside Milly’s head.
The ending was a double-edged sword. One side had a disturbing twist and one side was exactly as expected. Nonetheless, I think this book lived up to its hype and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Quotes I liked:
I want to run to you, crawl up inside you back into your womb. Rewrite a history where this time you’d love me normally.”
-“More disturbing than hurt is love when it’s wrong.”
-“The brain of a psychopath is different from most, I’ve weighed up my chances. Eighty percent genetics, twenty percent environment. Me. One hundred percent fucked.”