ONE TO WATCH OUT FOR: Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Review published on November 10, 2016.

This brooding disturbing tale grabs the reader with chilling opening pages hinting at dark deeds. Milly, previously known as Annie, is the narrator, a fifteen year old girl with an unnatural upbringing.

While she was still Annie, she finally succeeded in eluding her mother going to the police to confess what she had witnessed taking place in her home for as long as she can remember.

The reader is drip fed tantalising snippets and the story builds at a steady pace, enough to make it an unputdownable read, becoming increasingly disturbing with each revelation.

Annie became Milly to conceal her identity and protect her from the publicity that was certain to explode as her mother’s trial approached, She is assigned to be fostered by Mike, her counsellor and psychiatrist whose remit is to assist her in coming to terms with what she both witnessed and was forced to take part in by her mother, a respected nurse. He tries to prepare her as a possible witness for the prosecution. Saskia is Mike’s gentle but emotionally fragile wife and they have a daughter Phoebe who is ignorant and displeased at the sudden arrival of a ‘sister’ and boiling with resentment and jealousy. Her vile behaviour towards Milly adds stress in the form of bullying and victimisation at their shared school.

This is a gripping and mesmeric read and I could not put it down. The characterisation is well defined. It is not a pleasant story but an absorbing one, skilfully raising the issue of Nature versus Nurture. The reader is never certain how things will pan out. Has Milly succeeded in leaving the past behind? Can she move on and lead a normal life or is her mother’s claim ‘you are just like me’ a promise or a threat? The unpleasant behaviour of teenage girls towards a ‘newbie’ is a well documented truth. Not the only theme that I have a sneaking suspicion could be based in fact. Is it true that blood is thicker than water regardless of home life? This book suggests that filial loyalty is inbred despite maltreatment at the hand of a parent.

A gripping and thought provoking book that is sure to fire up lively discussion especially with the clever and most unexpected finale.

Sheila A Grant

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land
Michael Joseph 978-0718182922 hbk Jan 2017

 

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