SPOILER: Included in this book review of “Good Me Bad Me” are my thoughts on some of the key plot points. I will put those after the synopsis. Do not read past that point if you want to stay surprised when you read the book! You can read another book review I wrote using the link.
Synopsis of “Good Me Bad Me”
According to Amazon:
Good Me Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land: “Could not be more unputdownable if it was slathered with superglue.” ―Sunday Express
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 gets 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.
This book was amazing. There were surprises around every corner. I seriously couldn’t put it down. My reflections are under the following image, so be cautioned for spoilers there. First, I wanted to share more about the author, Ali Land.
About the author
After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nurse in both hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia. Though a voracious reader from a young age and a keen observer of the world, it took Ali over thirty years to put pen to paper but she sure is glad she did!
Ali’s debut novel Good Me Bad Me is an international bestseller and will be translated into twenty-two languages. It was short-listed for two Dead Good Reader Awards, short-listed by the Crime Writers Association for the John Creasey New Blood Dagger, short-listed for the Glass Bell Award for Contemporary Fiction and won Book Of The Year at Heat magazine Unmissables Awards. It’s also a New York Times Editor’s choice and a Richard and Judy book club pick. Ali is now a full-time writer and lives in London and is currently working on her second novel.(Amazon)
You can follow her here:
Starting fresh with a new family
That had to be so weird for Milly. She gets a new name (her real name is Annie), and she goes to live with a wealthy family. She gets a chance to start over after witnessing unimaginable horrors at the hands of her mother.
I can’t imagine living a whole life, no matter how traumatizing, and then being thrust into one that is completely different.
Milly definitely underwent some major trauma. Her mother was a serial killer and she witnessed the deaths of multiple children. This, obviously, sticks with her and haunts her, even when she gets the chance to start fresh.
Milly is the sort of person that would need extensive psychotherapy, probably for the rest of her life. I am not a therapist, but I cannot imagine living how she did and not needing therapy afterwards.
You can read more about my thoughts on trauma in this linked post.
There were five things that I can point out that were conflicting for Milly. First of all, her mother is a serial killer. It is mind-blowing to think about that. The entire book, I thought to myself: What if that was me? What if the person who is supposed to be genetically engineered to love and care for me was also a horrifying monster that took multiple lives?
Second, there is also the conflict of her own identity. She is the daughter of a serial killer. That has to leave her questioning everything about herself. Will she lead a law-abiding, productive life? Will she become like her mother? Is her mother’s mental illness hereditary? (Because she is obviously mentally ill.)
Also, she wrestles with survivor’s guilt. She watches lives end at the hands of her mother, and her mother spares her. She gets to live while so many innocent lives are taken. That takes a toll on her. I imagine she often wonders how close she was to being “next.”
Then, she has to testify against her mother. She is one of the reasons her mother goes away for the rest of her life. Even if my mother was a serial killer, I think I would still feel love for her. We would still be connected by our blood bond, so it would be incredibly difficult to make the decision to testify against her, even though she deserved it.
Finally, Milly had to keep an enormous secret from those around her, that she was a participant in one of the deaths. She doesn’t even remember this totally at first, it just comes to her in bits and pieces. But she was responsible for the deaths of one of the children, and it haunts her.
I recommend this book to everyone. It was fast-paced, and a stunning look into the life of a young woman dealing with unimaginable guilt and trauma. You can purchase it using the linked image above. Seriously. Check it out. You will love it.
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