What is this about?: Milly, formerly known as Annie. Her mother is a notorious serial killer, and Milly is the prosecution’s star witness. The book follows her in the week’s before her mother’s trial, when she’s living with Mike, her psychologist and his family.
What else is this about?: This is all about Milly. Every deep, dark secret of hers.
NEW N A M E .
NEW F A M I L Y.
S H I N Y.
Annie’s mother is a serial killer.
The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.
But out of sight is not out of mind.
As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly.
A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.
But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.
Good me, bad me.
She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…
The beauty of Good Me, Bad Me is also the reason it’s such a mind f&*k — pardon my French — Milly. Milly who sounds like someone shattered into a thousand pieces at her mother’s hands, but at the same time is a quiet, manipulator who will do anything and everything she can to get what she wants.
The book reads like a 15-year-old’s stream of consciousness, which I needed some time to get used to until I began to understand Milly. This stream of consciousness style of writing is intimate, it’ll help you empathise and sympathise with Milly as she tries to settle in with her foster family.
They’re not without their own problems, and Milly finds herself trying to navigate their complicated relationships while trying to settle in. Mike is her psychologist, tasked with getting her ready for her mother’s trial, and Saskia is his neglected wife and Phoebe his equally neglected daughter. While Saskia is a ghost at the edge of this narrative, it speaks to her presence in her family — insubstantial, only there when Mike and Phoebe need her to be.
Phoebe is a bitch — there’s really no way around that. She is a bully and as soon as Milly moves in, she becomes her number one target… but Milly isn’t a pushover. She pushes back, creating more tension between her and Phoebe. The irony — and one of the first times you realise just what Milly is — is that Phoebe and Milly are two of a kind, girls could rule whatever they set their mind to. But Milly never tells.
The book progresses through Milly and Mike’s sessions, through her recollections of her time with her mother, and this is where you’ll be reminded of the tragedy of her background and why you should be sympathising with her. Mike genuinely wants to help her, and she is a adept at letting him think they’re getting somewhere, but deep inside, there’s always her mother’s voice.
I read the pages of the trial on a knife’s edge, wondering what would happen — her mother is there, a woman who remains nameless and faceless in a way through the book. It gives the character more power in readers’ minds because I suspect each reader will have their own version of this character. Milly is a wreck through her testimony, reminding readers once again of her mother’s power over her.
Good Me, Bad Me is a marvellous example of riveting characterisation and writing that is subtle and complex. I found myself going back and forth, making sure I was reading what I thought I was reading. I was breathless by the end, drained even and that in my opinion is one of the best ways to be after finishing a book.