Saturday, May 9, 2009

Review - Somebody Else's Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage

Somebody Else's Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage
published 7/08
342 pages
Purchase at Amazon or Powell's

Synopsis from publisher:

Somebody Else’s Daughter is a literary page-turner peopled with fascinating and disturbing characters. In the idyllic Berkshires, at the prestigious Pioneer School, there are dark secrets that threaten to come to light. Willa Golding, a student, has been brought up by her adoptive parents in elegant prosperity, but they have fled a mysterious and shameful past. Her biological father, a failing writer and former drug addict, needs to see the daughter he abandoned, and so he gains a teaching position at the school. A feminist sculptor initiates a reckless affair, the Pioneer students live in a world to which adults turn a blind eye, and the headmaster’s wife is busy keeping her husband’s current indiscretions well hidden. Building to a breathtaking collision between two fathers—biological and adoptive, past and present— Somebody Else’s Daughter is both a suspenseful thriller and a probing study of richly conflicted characters in emotional turmoil.

My thoughts:

I'll admit that I'm a sucker for books about private schools, or boarding schools, or pretty much any school that requires a uniform. It seems like nothing good ever happens at any of them, which can make for some great reading! In the case of Somebody Else's Daughter, it also meant some dark, dark secrets.

Brundage uses multiple points of view to tell her story, and because she allows the reader to get to know each of the characters, it takes some time to build momentum. All of her characters seem to have something to hide, and the slow revelation of all their secrets forms the core of the novel. The last sections seem to fly by extremely quickly - after all the pages and pages of buildup, the ending might seem just a little rushed, but that could also just be because I had acclimated to the slower pace. Brundage develops her characters well, which is helpful in such a character-driven novel. Despite the fact that I didn't really like many of them, she allowed me to sympathise with them, and made me want to find out what would happen in each of their stories.

And, she knows how to tell a dark, dark story. She deals with AIDS, drug addition, prostitution, pornography, eating disorders - all in just over 300 pages. There are times when these issues are discussed in graphic detail, which was not easy to read. Several times she has characters speak of the "perfectness" of someone's life - all the while, her readers know just how false that perfection is.

This was not a light read, but I found myself engrossed throughout. I will definitely look for more books by this author.

Finished: 5/3/09
Source: Franklin Avenue library
Rating: 7/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:

Jen at Devourer of Books
Michelle at 1 More Chapter
The Friendly Book Nook
Swapna at S. Krishna's Books
Shana at Literarily


bermudaonion said...

I'm drawn to books like that, too, for some reason.

Beth F said...

Your review has gotten me very interested in this book. I like the way the book show us that we only think the grass in greener on the other side of the fence.

lauren said...

Yes! I've been looking for a nice dark dysfunctional book to read on my vacation! I'll have to check this out.

Amy said...

I really really liked this book. I loved the way she illustrated that our actions have consequences...and everyone is somebody else's daughter. ;)

Sadako said...

Ooh, I'm also a sucker for those. Did you like Prep, too?

I'm definitely planning on reading this one now!

Elizabeth said...

bermuda - I think it is because I secretly wish I could have attended one - creepy things always happen there!

Beth - it definitely deals with people's perceptions, and how they are usually wrong.

lauren - it is definitely dark and dysfunctional - I hope you enjoy it!

Amy - good point - I wanted to talk about that but forgot.

Sadako - I don't think I've read Prep - should I??

Cath said...

I am also addicted to books about boarding school and remember liking this one.

Joanne ♦ The Book Zombie said...

Wonderful review! This book caught my eye at the bookstore a few times, but after reading your review I will definitely be reading it.

Zibilee said...

Great review! This sounds like a really dark and interesting book.

Elizabeth said...

Connie - do you have any others to recommend?

Joanne - I hope you like it!

Zibilee - it is definitely dark, but in a good way.

gautami tripathy said...

I liked the various perspectives of this book. One great book.

BTW, I linked your review with mine:

Someone Else's Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage