Monday, October 4, 2010

The Good Daughters

Joyce Maynard's The Good Daughters is a book I have been very interested in reading. Diane's review at Bibliophile by the Sea added to my desire, so I was very happy when the library ordered it.
While I have read some of Maynard's work in the past, enjoying some and not others, I could barely put down The Good Daughters.
Narrated in alternating chapters by Ruth and Dana, these two girls were born on the same day in the same hospital. While their families have little in common, Ruth's mother, Connie, seems intent on keeping in touch with Dana and her parents. Ruth chronicles the connection (and later attraction) she felt toward Ray, Dana's older brother. Ruth had great artistic ability, much like Dana's mother, Val. She also felt connected to her father, Edwin, who as a farmer enjoyed his time outdoors working the land. While Ruth felt disconnected from her mother and older sisters, Dana also felt out of touch with her family. She, too, felt a pull toward Ruth's father and enjoyed helping him and learning about plants.

I could tell early on where this book was going - at least partially. The fact that neither daughter connected with their families and looked nothing like their families and happened to have been born on the same day in the same hospital didn't take much imagination for me to decide what must have happened. And yet, what could have been very predictable, was really interesting to see played out in these women. When Ruth falls madly in love with Ray, Dana's brother, and the two try to begin a family together, the resolution was heartbreaking. And when Dana attends Connie's funeral she is able to see Ruth's older sisters- noting how the decades have passed and how much she also looks like these women.

There are a lot of books out there that once a secret such as this is revealed, it changes the characters lives in many ways. Both Dana and Ruth eventually figure out the truth themselves and neither feels the need to confront anyone or suffer a breakdown. Dana and Ruth's response seems more real to me -not horribly contrived or overdramatized.

There are still a few things I would like to discuss with someone else who has read The Good Daughters, and I could see this making an excellent book club selection.


Anne Bennett said...

Unfortunately I havne't read this but I know how it feels to want to discuss a book and no of no one else who has read it. This is on my reading list now, though. Thanks. (Do you think it would be OK for high school readers?)

Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I am so happy you liked it. Email me with your questions....hopefully I will still recall the point you want to discuss...LOL

Meg said...

I plan on reading this one very soon -- sounds great!