What is a bad daughter?
Is it that little girl who can whine you right into a wine bottle?
How about that preteen princess who creates more drama than Broadway?
Or the teenager who pushes your buttons to the point that yanking out your thinning, graying hair is preferable to having this argument one more time.
But let’s fast forward through the years a bit…
Maybe it’s the neglectful adult daughter who is too busy to make time for her aging parent? A version of Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” but up the estrogen.
Or how about an abusive, hellion of a daughter who coerces her parent to sign the will before yanking the plug? Cue the maniacal laughter. Yeah.
And so when I heard about NYT Bestselling author, Joy Fielding’s latest book with the title, THE BAD DAUGHTER, I was in.
There are no spoilers ahead and title is linked to Amazon:
The Davis family is a hot mess.
Robin left her home in Red Bluff, California for college where she prepares to become a therapist. She later opens her own practice in Los Angeles. In what appears to be a case of physician, heal thyself, the therapist suffers from debilitating panic attacks.
By the end of the first chapter, the reader is immersed in the claustrophobic vibe. Adding to it, Robin is engaged to devastatingly handsome attorney, Blake, who she simply cannot trust. Cheater-cheater, secretary eater. Or so Robin thinks.
No wonder. Her best friend back in Red Bluff had been dating her brother, Alec, but dumped him to marry Robin’s widower father, Greg. Sure, Daddy Big Bucks can give Tara a lifestyle most young women could only dream of, but hello Tara–you are crossing a serious line here, don’t ya think?
So when Robin’s estranged sister, Melanie, calls with shocking news, Robin’s panic attacks reach Code Red status. (Code Red = you are so desperate, you accept Xanax from a random waitress in a dump diner.)
Apparently, there’s been a home invasion. Daddy dearest, step-mommy/ex-BFF Tara, and Tara’s 12 year-old daughter, Cassidy (from a high school relationship) have all been shot.
Tara’s face has been blown off. Daddy is clinging to life and not expected to make it. And young Cassidy is in critical condition.
Robin rushes home sans Blake. After all, when the better part of your family is whacked by three masked and muscular killers, you definitely don’t need your fiance’s support.
And from here on out, the shit just keeps hitting the fan.
Sister Melanie is a bitter, sarcastic bitch. She got pregnant in high school and now has a grown autistic son, Landon. She never lets her little sister forget that Robin is the lucky one who got away and got her education–as if this is the younger sister’s fault.
Brother Alec left home after his fiancee left him for Daddy Dearest, Greg Davis.
Add to the mix, sister Melanie’s grown autistic son, Landon, and his creepy friend, Kenny, and then throw in a vet/cowboy and the list of suspects is rounded out.
Sounds delicious, yes?
And yet, 100 pages in, I realized I didn’t like ANY of the characters. But something about the book compelled me to keep reading. I guess since author Fielding has a shelf full of published books to her credit, she knows how to keep a reader turning the page.
Or maybe it has more to do with my being a compulsive, Type-A reader who has to finish what she begins. Not sure which.
Also, with a cast of characters sharing the view that there is no life after death, Christian readers may find this a depressing read. I know I did. Especially in a book where death figures so prominently.
Bottom line: this book is okay. The climax and resolution satisfied. And I started to like nasty old Melanie about two-thirds of the way in when the author revealed enough to make her more sympathetic. And right around then, Robin grows some balls.
All in all, three out of five foxes – I liked it. Meh.
But on the plus side, if you decide to try this title, it might make you feel like your family is actually somewhat normal…yeah, never mind.
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick