Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
Flatiron Books: 9/5/17
eBook review copy; 304 pages
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land is a very highly recommended psychological thriller. This is an impressive, compelling debut novel.
"Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother,
the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly
is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent
foster family and a spot at an exclusive private school."
Psychologist Mike Newmont, his wife, Saskia, and their daughter, Phoebe
take Milly (whose real name is Annie) into their home, while her mother,
Ruth, a nurse who
murdered nine young children, is locked up and headed toward a
Mike's job is to provide Milly with therapy and support as she comes to
terms with her childhood and prepares for testifying at her mother's
trial, but after living with her mother and being abused for fifteen
years, Milly knows how to keep some things secret. She knows what her
mother would say, what she is capable of, and she still hears her
mother's voice in her head. Milly certainly sees and knows more than she
tells Mike, as well as other people.
As Milly is trying hard to fit in at her new home, she is also
struggling to fit in at her new school too, even as Phoebe, also
fifteen, is determined to bully her and make her life hell. The problem
is that Phoebe doesn't know Milly's true identity - and that Milly knows
all about bullies and tormentors. Can Milly be good, or is she her
Good Me Bad Me really is an unputdownable novel. Land manages to
capture a feeling of impending dread that had me hooked from the
beginning. The tension didn't let up straight through to the end. The
narrative is wonderfully paced to allow that feeling of nervous
anticipation of some unnamed horrific event that will surely be
forthcoming. Milly's account of events also has her gradually
disclosing more information about her past. As the tormenting increases,
the potential of what living with Ruth has taught Milly, also begins to
It is also a character analysis of someone who has experienced years of
horrific childhood trauma. The abuse is by the hands of someone who is
supposed to love her, establishing the question is it nature or nurture.
Can Milly overcome the experiences of her childhood or is she doomed to
repeat what her mother has taught her?
Adding to the total package is the excellent writing. Land presents us
with a well-written, entertaining, engrossing psychological thriller
that held my rapt attention from beginning to end.
My review copy was courtesy of Flatiron Books.