Excerpt from The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Good Daughters

A Novel

By Joyce Maynard

The Good Daughters
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Sep 2010,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2011,
    304 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BJ Nathan Hegedus

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


One spring Ray Dickerson built a homemade unicycle using a few old bike parts he’d found at the dump. That was Ray for you. When other boys were out on the ball field, he rode that contraption around town playing his harmonica. At one point, he’d tried to teach his sister how to ride the unicycle, and Dana had taken a fall bad enough that her arm ended up in a sling. You’d think Mrs. Dickerson would have confiscated the thing after that—or that she’d be upset at least, but it didn’t seem to bother her, though my mother had a fit. Not much bothered Val Dickerson, or appeared to. She was an artist, and generally absorbed in that more than whatever might be going on with her children, was my impression. Where my mother kept close tabs on every single thing my sisters and I did, Val Dickerson would disappear into a room she called her studio for hours at a time, leaving Dana and Ray with an enormous bowl of dry Cheerios and some odd assignment like “go put on a play” or “see if you can find a squirrel and teach him to do tricks.” The strange thing was, they might. When Ray talked to animals, they seemed to listen.

My father couldn’t ever take time off in summer, because of all the jobs that needed doing at our farm, but my mother established a tradition of making a road trip every year during February vacation, when there wasn’t so much that needed doing on the farm, and what there was he could, reluctantly, trust to his helper, a small, wiry boy by the name of Victor Patucci who’d first shown up at our door when he was only fourteen or so, looking for work. Victor was about as unlikely a person as you could have chosen to be a farmer—a smoker, who wore so much Brylcreem his hair reflected light, who followed race car driving and turned up his transistor radio whenever they played an Elvis Presley song, and never seemed to go to school. His father worked in the shoe factory, and my father said he wasn’t a good man—words that stood out for me because my father so seldom spoke ill of anyone.

“The boy could use a helping hand,” my father said when he’d signed Victor up—and though initially my mother protested the thirty-dollar-a-week expense, it was Victor’s presence on our farm that made our annual Dickerson visit possible, and for that she was thankful.

So every March we set out to see the Dickersons. Before embarking on our road trip, my mother filled a cooler with sandwiches and jars of peanut butter and things like beef jerky that didn’t go bad. Then my sisters and I would pile into the backseat of our old Country Squire station wagon with the fake wood paneling and a stack of coloring books and Mad Libs to keep us busy. We’d play I Spy or look for license plates from unusual states and now and then we’d stop at battlefields and historic monuments, and sometimes a museum, but our ultimate destination was whatever run-down house or trailer (and one time, a converted Quonset hut) the Dickersons were living in that year.

The point of this, as always, was what my mother imagined to be my attachment to Dana Dickerson, but for me, the one significant attraction of the trip was knowing I’d get to see Ray Dickerson.

Young as I was, I understood he was handsome, and the knowledge of that made me shy, though I was drawn to him too. The odd thing was that even when I was very young—eight or nine, and he twelve or thirteen—he seemed to take an interest in me over my sisters. On one of our visits, he had spotted a drawing I’d made in the car, of a camel I’d copied off an empty cigarette pack I’d found—only I added a man dressed like Lawrence of Arabia riding on it, and a girl tied up, like a prisoner, on the camel’s other hump.

“Cool picture,” he said. “I’ll give you a Lifesaver for it.”

Excerpted from The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard. Copyright © 2010 by Joyce Maynard. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Perfect Pie

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Take This Man
    Take This Man
    by Brando Skyhorse
    "A chorus of six men calling me Son might sound ludicrous to you, but to me it's the sound of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  133Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.