THE GOOD DAUGHTERS by Joyce Maynard

Book Quote:

“Later, thinking back on the way my father recounted the story, it occurred to me that much of the language he used to describe the storm might have been applied to the act of a couple making love. He made the sound of the wind for me, then, and I pressed myself against his chest so he could wrap his big arms around me. I shivered, just to think how it must have been that night.

For some reason, my father liked to tell this story, though I – not my sisters, not our mother—was his only audience. Well, that made sense perhaps. I was his hurricane girl, he said. If there hadn’t been that storm, he liked to say, I wouldn’t be here now.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (AUG 24, 2010)

Joyce Maynard’s books are usually about love, loss, life, and resolution. This book is no exception. It is a lovely book that I’d like to have read while resting against a tree in a forest or while lounging in a canoe in a crystal still lake. It’s that kind of book.

The Good Daughters is about two girls, Dana Dickerson and Ruth Plank. They are called “birthday sisters” because they were born in the same hospital on the same day, almost nine months to the day after the great hurricane of 1949. Because of this connection, their families stay in touch as the girls are growing up. Usually they visit one another once or twice a year. The Planks own a large farm in New Hampshire that has been in their family for generations. The Dickersons are never in one place for very long.

Ruth grows up on the farm with four older sisters. The four other sisters all look alike, just like their mother. They are short, sturdy, strong girls who are close with one another and their mother. Ruth is tall and lean, built unlike her sisters or mother. Her father calls her “beanpole.” Ruth doesn’t think that her mother loves her like she loves her other daughters. Their relationship is stiff and difficult at the best of times. Ruth feels very close to her father and loves to ride the tractor with him or spend any other alone time she can get with him. Ruth is drawn to art and wants to be an artist when she grows up. She has an active imagination and loves to create stories in her head.

Dana’s parents are on the fringe of society and move around frequently. Her mother is a narcissistic artist and her father is absent more than present. He is full of get-rich-quick schemes that come to naught. Dana’s mother is almost six feet tall and blond. Dana has a brother, Ray, that is quirky and ephemeral. Neither parent pays much attention to the children. Ruth and Ray have a special relationship. Dana’s mother showers her with Barbie dolls and Barbie outfits which are about the last thing in the world that she wants. When Ruth comes to visit she likes to play with them. Dana is short and stocky, not built at all like her tall, lanky mother. Dana loves the smell of the earth and the Plank farm. She doesn’t like to dress up. Her idea of dress-up is clean jeans and a clean shirt. She wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress.

The book harbors a big secret that is obvious to the reader very early on. This secret, however, is not obvious to Dana or Ruth. As they grow up and become the women they were meant to be, pieces of the story fall into place more and more.

The story is told in the alternate voices of Ruth and Dana. Each chapter is told by one of the girls and is about their lives from their births in 1950 until they are in their 50’s. The reader is privy to their childhoods, first loves and relationships. We live with them through the Vietnam War, Woodstock, their love of the land, and their relationships with their families. It is a tender book that has its share of sadness and torment. Joyce Maynard knows how to write page-turners that are literate and strongly emotive. This is a wonderful follow-up to Labor Day.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 46 readers
PUBLISHER: William Morrow (August 24, 2010)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK? YES! Start Reading Now!
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EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
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August 24, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, NE & New York, Reading Guide

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