Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land *TRIGGER WARNING*

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THIS. BOOK. IS. DISTURBING. Let's just start there shall we. Check the synopsis below.


SYNOPSIS:

Milly's mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother's trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother's daughter.


You know what it feels like to have butterflies in your stomach. Your anxiety level is high and you can feel every emotion welling up inside of you. With every turn of every page in this book I felt that. I wasn't sure I would make it through this book because it deals with the death of children and I have DNF'd {Did Not Finish} books for this very reason. As I kept reading I became to curious to know the consequences of these horrendous acts and if Milly, the main character, was in fact a product of her environment; if she shared a desire to take lives like her murderous mother who raised her. Milly watched her mom commit heinous acts growing all the while being abused her self. How could she escape that which is in instilled in her?

Milly had a brother that happily got away from their abominable childhood. Milly, however, was sent to live with a well to do, but subtly dysfunctional, foster family. It is with this family that Milly's true nature begins to show itself. I think the premise of this book is simply nature versus nurture and in Milly's case I felt like it was both. Milly's mom has to stand trial for her crimes and Milly is the key witness. Throughout the story Milly keeps hearing her mom's voice in her head and having imaginary conversations with her while preparing for the trial. She keeps hearing all the controlling and vile things she said to her as a child. Milly was trying to convince herself that she was nothing like her mother when in fact she was exactly like her mother. Her mother, in all of her psychopathic behavior, justified the killings by saying she "loved" her victims.

One of the most telling parts of the story was the case of Daniel, one of Milly's mom's young victims. Milly entered the room where her mother had just tortured Daniel to near death, but she found him alive barely breathing and rather than help him she took his last breath, later stating that she did so to "protect" him. Milly also befriended a girl named MK, who was considered an outcast in the neighborhood. MK and Milly both were bullied by Milly's foster sister, Phoebe and as much MK and Milly had in common, Milly's relationship with her was quite strange. She felt a closeness to MK, but also wanted to do her harm. I thought the way Land developed Milly's character was perfect. I could see her taking on the characteristics of her mother and unraveling from beginning to end. 

Case in point, MK ran to Milly's house one rainy night because MK's uncle was abusing her and although Milly provided her some comfort by tucking her in bed there was this unspoken desire she had to smother MK with a pillow. She was methodical and calculated. In the end she spared MK, but not Phoebe.


I'm not trying not to be bad. I'm trying not to get caught."


This one of the most intense psychological thrillers I have read in a very long time. Land pushes every possible boundary. She wrote this story ferociously. That's the only way I can describe it. When I got to the very end I tilted my head back and took a deep breath. Land wrote a perfect sociopathic character in Milly. Even when Milly's father began to piece two and two together, Milly was stoic when telling him to be calm and take a drink as if she hadn't murdered his daughter. This book would almost be perfect if it were not for Sas, Milly's foster mother. She was extremely disconnected, medicated most of the time and having an affair, but her background was never explained. She didn't have a close relationship with her daughter, Phoebe, but it was just unclear to me WHY their relationship was so strained. There was also a rape scene with MK in this book and honestly it made angry because MK insisted on keeping it on a secret, but the harsh reality is that this happens with young girls and women. The ridicule and feelings of embarrassment trump the crime. If you can tolerate the shocking premise of this book, I HIGHLY recommend it. This is quite a mind bender and extraordinaryfor Land's debut novel. She takes the reader effortlessly through the recesses of a fifteen year old girl's mind who has no social or moral conscience.  It was fast paced and I finished this novel in one sitting. 

My Rating 4/5

  Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land Hardcover, Imprint: Michael Joseph Ltd, 338 pages Published January 12th 2017 by Penguin Books Ltd Sent from Flatiron Books Pacing 5/5 photo cred; Cici Ford

 

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

Hardcover, Imprint: Michael Joseph Ltd, 338 pages

Published January 12th 2017 by Penguin Books Ltd

Sent from Flatiron Books

Pacing 5/5

photo cred; Cici Ford