Title: The Good Daughters
Author: Joyce Maynard
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Good Daughters follows the story of two girls: Ruth, from the Plank family, and Dana from the Dickerson family. They were born within one hour of each other, and despite the fact that they do not like one another, this strange coincidence has tied both families together through all kinds of circumstances, following them into adulthood.
Though I heard wonderful things about Joyce Maynard’s novel Labor Day, for some reason I never had the urge to pick it up and read it. When The Good Daughters arrived, however, I knew better than to make that same mistake. Though I wasn’t sure that the plot really appealed to me, I made it a point to get to it as soon as possible, and am so glad I did.
The Good Daughters was a beautifully written piece of fiction. Joyce Maynard has a very literary style of writing that will appeal to many different readers. She elevates the novel from a simple piece of contemporary fiction about two girls to something else entirely. The novel is sweeping and emotional; the reader gets involved in the lives of these two girls, simply because of Maynard’s amazing prose.
The intertwining stories seem a little strange at first, but the reader quickly gets used to the two voices, the dual narration. Ruth is expressive, and only wants her mother’s love and approval. She learns at a young age that she will never receive it, but that doesn’t stop her from trying. Meanwhile, Dana lives in contempt of her parents. Free spirits, she envies Ruth for her roots and her solid, dependable parents. As these two girls grow and change, the reader sees them come into their own and pursue their dreams, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the influence of their parents and surroundings.
Of course, this novel has a few twists and turns. Some are surprising, others are not – I was able to figure out the biggest twist long before the big reveal, but it didn’t influence my enjoyment of The Good Daughters. This isn’t a suspense novel; the reader is supposed to deduce these details from the clues the author sprinkles about the novel. As a result, it becomes satisfying rather than disappointing.
The Good Daughters was an exceptional novel that was well-written and engaging. Fans of all different types of genres – literary fiction, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction – will find something to love in this wonderful book. This would also make a great book club pick, as readers will enjoy discussing Ruth and Dana and the way their lives develop.