Thursday, August 5, 2010

100 - The Good Daughters; Joyce Maynard



















The Good Daughters, by Joyce Maynard  is a simple story on the surface. It is the story of two families, the Planks and the Dickersons. On July 4, 1950, baby girls were born to each family in a rural New Hampshire hospital. For the Planks, baby Ruth was a fifth daughter. For the Dickersons. baby Dana was an only daughter, with a little boy, Ray at home. The two families could not have been more different. The Planks, Edwin and Connie, were a hard working, farming family. The ancestors had lived on, and farmed the land dating back to the 1700's. The Dickersons, George and Val,  were restless spirits who moved from place to place, NH, VT, PA etc. every few years. They appeared to have no visible source of income.

Even though the Dickersons moved away from New Hampshire, Mrs Plank insisted on staying in touch. Each March they took a trip to visit the Dickersons;  for the sake of the "birthday sisters", she would say. As the girls got older they seemed to have had little in common. In fact Ruth seemed more interested in seeing Dana's brother Ray when they would visit.

While Ruth was artistic and introspective:

 "THINGS WERE NEVER easy with my mother, but I adored my dad. My father alone, of all people in our family, seemed to appreciate me, even if he did not always understand what was going on in my head. Where my mother remained distant and dismissive, my father offered nothing but love........"

 Dana seemed to be the only one in her family with a solid grasp of reality:

"I think I always had an understanding of the seasons and recognized that all of them--winter as much as summer, fall as much as spring--were necessary to sustain the cycle of life. I might be the youngest, but I kept track of the bills. Where the others whistled in the dark, I considered how we might get by in the event of a worst-case scenario. From what I'd seen of the world, those were far more likely to take place than the paydays George kept expecting".
 One thing the two girls did seem to share was a sort of restlessness, a sense of being different, and never quite fitting in. The story of told in alternating chapters, by the "birthday sisters" from childhood well into their adult years. Even though the girls have long periods of separation, the reader stays close by their sides to share their sadness, brief periods of joy and their secrets.

MY THOUGHTS - I LOVED this book! It took me a long while to decide what to write about this novel without giving away any secrets.  This is a favorite type of novel for me: a coming of age story, and a story with characters I truly cared about.  It's about life, about people longing for love, dealing with loss, and a story about trying to find peace with oneself in a not so perfect world.  Joyce Maynard has an amazing way of  telling a heartfelt story; one that draws you in and doesn't let you go. Her previous book, Labor Day, was also excellent.  This is a book that you will want to read in one sitting. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

5/5 stars
Review Copy-Harper Collins
(8/24/2010)



24 comments:

  1. A book to read in one sitting?! Yes!! That sounds fantastic, and I love coming of age stories as well -- not to mention, the cover is really very sweet!

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  2. I read something like this a while back where it involved two babies being accidentally exchanged at birth and how they always felt different in their respective homes. Family sagas are good.

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  3. I love books about coming of age stories too! I will be adding this to my list!

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  4. I've got this one to read soon. I love Joyce Maynard!

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  5. Now I really want to read this one!

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  6. I love coming of age stories too so this is one I will add to my list.

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  7. Trying to find peace in a not so perfect world? You sold me.

    I so enjoyed Labor Day that I simply cannot wait to read this one.

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  8. thanks for sharing.It's really sounds like a great book!

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  9. I really liked Labor Day (also a one-sitting book for me) so based on your rec. this title is going on the list. Nice review, Diane!

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  10. I am so excited about this book, I can hardly stand it. I'm thrilled to see you loved it, since I trust your judgment.

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  11. I love the cover of this one, but the fact that you highly recommend this one made me add it to my (growing) wish list!

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  12. I really like these kinds of books, family dramas spanning many years. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  13. This looks wonderful. I love stories that are told in alternating voices. Oh, TBR, how thou growest.

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  14. I think this sounds like a really interesting book, and since I love books that I can get caught up in and read all in one sitting, this one sounds excellent for me. Thanks for the great review, I am so glad you gave this one a thumbs up!!

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  15. WOW! I will definitely buy this one whenever I find it here. You have made me want to@!! Great review!`

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  16. I love coming of age stories too and will definitely be adding this one to my list!

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  17. I think I need to read this author finally!

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  18. You've convinced me that I need to read this. I've not read Maynard yet and this one appeals to me. GReat review :)

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  19. I am going to go order this book right now.

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  20. I'm so glad you loved this book! I hope to get to it soon.

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  21. I must get my hands on a copy of this one. I loved Labor Day and so I'm totally drawn to this just by that fact alone. The way you describe it makes me believe that I will so enjoy it!

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  22. I just read your review today. I waited until I had written my review. We seem to be on the same wavelength. Not surprising. I loved this one also.
    I will definitely read Labor Day now. Awesome review.

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  23. I love Maynard's books. Labor Day was great, as was The Usual Rules. I can't wait to read this one, especially after reading your fantastic review!

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  24. Oh, I wish I loved this one like you did. I thought it was just okay. I really liked Labor Day though and have high hopes for others written by her. I really like her writing style.

    BTW - did you get the comment on Bermudaonion's blog that was directed to you regarding Google Reader on the iPad?

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