GOOD ME, BAD ME BY ALI LAND
PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN BOOKS
REVIEW BY CALLIE
If you love thrillers, then this is your book! The furious pace of this tale about a damaged girl's journey towards ‘normality’ intrigued me and kept me on the edge of my couch.
Annie has just been placed in a foster home and given a new name - Milly - because her mother is a serial killer. And it is Milly herself who turned her in. With a fresh new identity and new family, Milly hoped she would have a fresh start and a place to reinvent herself, overcoming the burden of her mother. But you can’t outrun yourself. Milly is not sure if she can be good, or if she really is her mother’s daughter.
This novel is tightly written, has a clear sense of voice that engages the reader, and realistically goes inside the psyche of a victim of crime. But is she really such a victim? The lurking mystery and sense of menace in this psychological tale is engaging, examining what it means to be a victim, and our society’s obsession with both the perpetrators and victims of terrible crimes. Perhaps more importantly, it examines what is considered good and bad. Milly wrestles with the old argument of nature versus nurture; who, or what, creates your shape? Can she outrun her mother’s very long shadow?
The book also examines mother-daughter relationships in general, and the importance of family in our lives. Is there such a thing as ‘normal’? Uniquely dominated by female characters, Land breaks the stereotype showing how cruel women can be, both old and young. While gruesome and disturbing at times, the book is never gratuitous and deals with the psychological elements of victims in an interesting way.
The darkness in this book is palpable and I often found that I could not read it at night. I was left wondering about the nature of humanity and why people feel the need to hurt others so much. A fascinating book, with wonderfully detailed characters. But it can be trying; it is difficult to read such pain and damage. However, unlike so many books, the ending is a killer.
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.