Meyers’ empathetic, socially conscious debut considers the burdens carried and eventually shed by two sisters, survivors of domestic violence.
Ten-year-old Lulu and eight-year-old Merry are caught up in adult turmoil when their father murders their mother in July 1971. Over the subsequent three decades, Lulu feels ineradicable guilt for letting him into the apartment that day and takes on the responsibility of protecting her sister. Merry, who bears literal scars (their father knifed her too), nevertheless considers it her job to keep him cheery throughout his life sentence. The children suffer relentlessly, both before the murder under the care of their neglectful mother and afterward in a miserable orphanage. A calm phase follows when the kindly Dr. and Mrs. Cohen take them home as foster children, yet both girls grow up deeply marked. Lulu is a short-tempered control freak who lies about her parents; Merry self-destructively depends on booze and unavailable men. Lulu marries successfully and has two children, but the women’s lives are finally blown apart when one of the children is briefly held hostage at the courthouse where Merry works as a probation officer. Now the truth comes out, and both Lulu and Merry are liberated, to a degree.
Eminently readable, despite some clunky phrasing and an excess of psychology, with affecting moments and insights.