Possible Pick: The Good Daughters
Posted by: Rebecca Vnuk
Are we ourselves, or our we a product of our families? Is life nature vs. nurture or is it more complex than either? The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard is the story of two girls, born on the same day, to entirely different families.
Ruth is sensitive and artistic and can’t seem to understand her farmer father and cold mother. Dana, who grows up to be a scientist, is constantly seeking grounding and stability, thanks to her flighty parents and her loosey-goosey childhood. The girls are friends of a sort, mainly thrust together in the “isn’t-it-cute-they-share-a-birthday” sense. They each have intricate, complicated relationships with Ruth’s father and with Dana’s brother. As they grow up and find their places in the world, family secrets come to light and their worlds slowly begin to make sense.
I enjoyed the characters in this book, who were all unique and fully drawn. The themes of family, personality, and coming-of-age will appeal to book discussion groups. (One note, there is some sexuality in the book, so as a group leader it might be best to read this before suggesting it if you know you have group members who may be sensitive to that.)
A reading guide is available here, but be warned it may contain spoilers.