Short Take: Kind of like me – hot in the front, smokin in the back, but a little flabby around the middle.
(I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)
Hello, my lovely nerdlings!! This is the spot where I usually write a hilarious but insightful intro, generally involving the weather, my state of mind, or world events, but today I’m actually going to leave the house for once, so let’s get straight to the good stuff, hmmm?
Widowed mom-of-three Grace is just finishing up her shift at the pizza place the family owns, when she gets the call no parent ever expects: her adopted sixteen-year-old daughter Penny has been found at the scene of a murder. Penny is holding the knife and covered in blood, and has no memory of committing the crime, but just in case there is any doubt, she also has a very, very good reason to hate that person, and was even arrested for threatening them the year before.
But there’s more to Penny than meets the eye – namely, Chloe, Ruby, and Eve, her alternate personalities. See, Penny has DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder). Penny herself probably didn’t kill anyone, but one of her alters may have, or there may even be other violent personalities hiding deep inside her mind.
With the clock ticking down to her trial, and Penny et al confined to a mental hospital, her family and Dr. Mitch McHugh (who has some issues of his own) must figure out a way to convince a jury of a whole lot of things that probably seem impossible to most people: DID is real. Penny has it. Penny’s body may have committed a crime, but Penny herself did not. And finally, Penny needs help, not prison.
It’s a tall order, and a fascinating journey. Grace is understandably desperate to keep her daughter out of prison, but what will her obsessiveness do to her relationship with her sons? Dr. McHugh wants to save Penny to get some kind of redemption for his own failings in other parts of his life, but as we all know, it doesn’t really work that way.
And at the center of it all is a teenage girl who has a whole lot of hideous secrets locked in her mind.
Overall, The Perfect Daughter is a fantastic read. Mr. Palmer has done his homework, and he breaks down complex psychological concepts in a way that’s easily understood without being dumbed down. The story itself, the central mystery of Penny’s life and her victim’s death is brilliant, and the ending caught me completely by surprise. Trust me, whatever you think you know, you don’t. Just go with it.
My only gripe is the pacing. Between the sudden-death opening and the OMG ending, there’s quite a bit of flab. Grace’s visits to Eve in the mental hospital, and Dr. McHugh’s attempts to draw out her memories and help Penny to become whole are interesting, but start to feel a little repetitive, and most scenes seem to play out just a little too long.
Now, I’m off to Do Things today. What the heck is that giant yellow thing hanging over the horizon?
The Nerd’s Rating: FOUR HAPPY NEURONS (and a big old slice of pizza, duh).