Lulu and Merry are just nine and five, respectively, when their father shoots and kills their mother and ends up in prison. They are shuffled around from one family member to another until finally their aunt can’t stand the sight of them (she cannot deal with the fact that her sister’s murderer’s children are in her home) and sends them to a group home for girls without parents. Eventually they go to live with foster parents who take care of them until both girls are eighteen. But their father’s existence becomes a wedge between the two of them, with Lulu writing him off as if he died too, while Merry spends her life trying to please him, trying to take care of him since she’s the only one he has left. As Lulu and Merry go from girls to teens to women, they do everything they can to shake the label they have of being “the murderer’s daughters” and carve out spaces in this world for each of their unique selves.
The Murderer’s Daughters is an incredibly compelling family drama that hooked me in from the first page. Told from the perspectives of both Lulu and Merry, it was easy to relate to both girls and feel their pain as they grew up without parents, stained by the effects of their father’s unconscionable decision. Lulu and Merry were such different people, but it was easy to get into each of their heads as they told their individual stories. Both of them were realistic characters with some major flaws, but they were just doing the best they could with the messed-up lives they’d been given.
Their father’s existence was truly a huge rift between the girls, and it was interesting to see how this played out throughout the course of their lives. I also enjoyed reading about the dynamic of sisters displayed in The Murderer’s Daughters. I definitely empathized with Lulu because I am also an older sister, and I know what it is to constantly feel as though I have to watch out for and protect my little sister. Like Lulu, I have always been “the responsible one” and my sister has always been “the rebellious one”. But I definitely empathized with Merry, too, because she truly felt it was her responsibility to take care of their father, and she felt a lot of pressure to get Lulu and their father to reconcile their relationship. I loved how despite their differences, Lulu and Merry continued to be best friends and remained close (physically and emotionally) throughout their entire lives – they truly were everything to one another. It made me care for the two of them, like I just wanted them to be two very happy people since they were lucky enough to at least have each other.
There were many events in the novel that surprised me, and I really enjoyed where Meyers took the story of these two ladies and what she did with their lives. The Murderer’s Daughters really grabbed me in every good way possible, and I highly recommend it.