Saturday, February 13, 2010

"The Murderer’s Daughters"

Randy Susan Meyers spent eight years as assistant director of Common Purpose, a batterer intervention program where she worked with both batterers and domestic violence victims. Previously, she was director for the Mission Hill Community Centers where she worked with at-risk youth. She is the co-author of the nonfiction book Couples with Children. Her short fiction has been published in Perigee, Fog City Review, and Grub Street Free Press.

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Murderer's Daughters, her debut novel, and reported the following:
The Murderer’s Daughters follows Lulu and Merry, sisters who’ve witnessed their father kill their mother, from ages 10 and 6 to their forties. On p. 69, Lulu, now age 13, (the story is told in the sister’s rotating voices) has just been attacked by girls in the orphanage (where she and her sister live) and she is speaking with the social worker, Mrs. Cohen:
“You’re all lying. Kelli, Maureen, April, wait for me in the conference room.” Mrs. Cohen glared at them. “You too, Reetha.”

Conference room was the polite term for a dirty little punishment of a room without windows. There were no pictures, no lamps, and no rug, just a limp-cushioned sofa and three scratched plastic chairs.

Mrs. Cohen waited patiently until they left, then narrowed her eyes at me.

I couldn’t figure out if she was angry or upset.

“Why are you protecting them?” she asked.

“Because I live here.”

“They could have hurt you.”

“I could have hurt them. At least one of them.”

“That bothers me just as much. Maybe more.”

Was I supposed to bare my soul in the basement bathroom?

“I’m worried about you, Lulu. You can’t afford to lose what you have.”

“What do I have?”

Mrs. Cohen ran a hand over my forehead.


The word hit me more like a demand than a compliment. Her eyes got all soft, as though I were some sort of prize. I saw that she wanted to save me. “I’m worried about my sister,” I said. “I’m scared she’s going to kill herself.”


“Remember,” I told Merry a few days later. “You need to be extra-good today. Do that cute thing you do.”
What this section doesn’t capture is the POV of both sisters. The book flips between the two, and they react very differently. Lulu is always scheming to keep their lives safe and intact, and finding ways to keep the world at bay, while also resentful that her sister is her responsibility. Merry is always trying to stay safe by pleasing the world.

What this section does capture is this: whatever else is going on in their world, their connection is paramount. While this paradigm is the sisters’ salvation and strength, it can also be their Achilles heel.
Read an excerpt from The Murderer’s Daughters, and learn more about the book and author at Randy Susan Meyers' website and blog.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue