Good Me, Bad Me
by Ali Land4 out of 5
'NEW N A M E .
NEW F A M I L Y.
S H I N Y.
ME . '
Annie's mother is a serial killer.
The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.
But out of sight is not out of mind.
As her mother's trial looms, the secrets of her past won't let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name - Milly.
A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.
But Milly's mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.
Good me, bad me.
She is, after all, her mother's daughter...
After shopping her paedophilic and serial murderer mother to the police, Milly has to move on. Having a new foster family, and being the new girl at school is hard enough; she only hopes they don't find out who she really is.
I received a copy of the book from Netgalley. To be honest, this is a genre I don't normally read, as I don't enjoy abuse-centred stories. Or at least, I only cherry-pick the ones that I will read.
Good Me, Bad Me is disturbing, in that it is about a woman who kidnaps, tortures and kills young children. But the woman that does that - Milly's mother - is in the background. I liked that about the book, the horrible facts are there and shadowing everything, but the book never glories in them. This is Milly's story. This is her struggle to escape her mother, and the effect that her abuse has on Milly. But also, whether she truly wants to escape.
I thought it was wonderfully done, how Milly hates what her mother has done to those children, and the abuse that she suffered herself. But she admires her mother's intelligence and charm, her ability to weave love and pain.
Milly takes the only skills she has learnt - the ability to find the dark threads in people's lives, and manipulate them - and she applies it to those she meets in her new life. It is a defence, it is a curiosity, it is habit.
We follow her life with her foster family, and in particular her new foster-sister Phoebe, who is frustrated with her father spending all of his time and attention on foster projects, and sets out to make Milly's life hell.
I enjoyed the intriguing directions of the story, the normal and mundane mixed with a dark shadow. It is not fast-paced, but well-suited to the overall atmosphere of the book.
The story is told in an unusual fashion, where Milly is our narrator, and she's telling her mother everything that's happening. Or at least, the emotional scar that her mother left in her head. Once I got used to this, I thought it worked very well. There were a few points were the narrative slipped and was weaker - when Milly is referring to something someone said, the format sometimes changes. There were also a few sections were the scene drastically shifted, sometimes within a sentence, and I had to go back and check.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and was very impressed by Land's debut.