Summary and book reviews of Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

Good Me Bad Me

by Ali Land

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
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  • Published:
    Sep 2017, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Erin Szczechowski

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About this Book

Book Summary

Good Me Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

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.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother's trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother's daughter.

1

Forgive me when I tell you it was me.

It was me that told.

The detective. A kindly man, belly full and round. Disbelief at first. Then, the stained dungarees I pulled from my bag. Tiny.

The teddy bear on the front peppered red with blood. I could have brought more, so many to choose from. She never knew I kept them.

Shifted in his chair, he did. Sat up straight, him and his gut.

His hand—I noticed a slight tremor as it reached for the telephone. Come now, he said. You need to hear this. The silent waiting for his superior to arrive. Bearable for me. Less so for him. A hundred questions beat a drum in his head. Is she telling the truth? Can't be. That many? Dead? Surely not.

I told the story again. And again. Same story. Different faces watched, different ears listened. I told them everything.

Well.

Almost everything.

The video recorder on, a gentle whirring the only noise in the room once I finished my statement.

You might have to go to court, you know that, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Good Me Bad Me is narrated by fifteen-year-old Milly. Discuss her voice. Why do you think the author chose to write the book in this style?
  2. Milly is placed in a foster family that, on paper, looks ideal but behind closed doors is anything but. Is there such a thing as a normal family? Are the Newmonts "normal"? Do you think a different foster family would have changed who Milly became? Was it was the right decision to place Milly in foster care or should she have remained in a secure, psychiatric unit—and for how long? Forever?
  3. Why do you think the author chose a female serial killer who is also a mother? Are bad women somehow worse than bad men?
  4. Milly strikes up a friendship with a younger, vulnerable girl named Morgan. Discuss their ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Written in both first person and second (when Milly directly addresses her mother,) Good Me, Bad Me hooked me from the start. The writing is clear and direct, but also has a quiet sort of elegance to it, and an almost musical lilt. We have direct access to Milly's thoughts, and so we learn that she is more than just scarred by her mother, she is haunted by her too.   (Reviewed by Erin Szczechowski).

Full Review (661 words).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Readers will be more than happy to go along for the ride and may be surprised how they feel about the conclusion, proving the unmistakable spell that Land has cast. Sly, unsettling, and impossible to put down.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A deliberate pace and a skillfully woven plot conspire to create a visceral read that's at once a gripping psychological thriller and a devastating exploration of the damage wrought by childhood trauma.

Sunday Express (UK)

Could not be more unputdownable if it was slathered with superglue.

Cosmopolitan (UK)

The new Girl on The Train, which was the new Gone Girl You get the picture. This psycho-thriller by Ali Land is set to be massive.

Heat (UK)

A gripping tale about a teenage girl waiting to give evidence at her serial-killer mother's trial. Unsettling and unforgettable.

Radio 4's Open Book (UK)

Incredible, very special.

The Sun (UK)

Uncomfortable, shocking, and totally compelling, put this to the top of your to-read pile.

The Guardian (UK)

Unsettling. Holds our attention from the opening page. There is so much to praise here.

Author Blurb Clare Mackintosh, New York Times bestselling author of I Let You Go
Original and compelling - what a sensational debut!

Author Blurb Rowan Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of The Memory Book
Good Me Bad Me is a novel that explodes off the page, with beautifully drawn characters and carefully executed pace. Heart rending, engrossing and ultimately terrifying, you'll be thinking about it a long time after you've turned the final page.

Author Blurb Jill Mansell, internationally bestselling author of Rumor Has It
Unbelievably good, utterly gripping.

Author Blurb Joanna Cannon, bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
Good Me Bad Me is utterly compelling. Ali Land writes with such clarity, and such imagination, you will fall into her world on the very first page and find yourself unable to leave. An extraordinary and breath-taking debut.

Author Blurb Helen Callaghan, internationally bestselling author of Dear Amy
Good Me Bad Me is an astonishing debut - technically sophisticated and emotionally heart wrenching. So many things are done well - the status jungle of girls school, the psychological dissonance of a dysfunctional family, the internal machinery of damaged children. I thought it was wonderful.

Author Blurb Julia Heaberlin, internationally bestselling author of Black-Eyed Susans
Original, intense, and utterly compelling, Good Me Bad Me is not just a terrific thriller but a psychological dive into a young girl's soul. It takes subtlety and perfect balance to maintain a dark tale like this, and Land never once stutters or makes you look away.

Author Blurb Matt Haig, author of The Humans and Reasons to Stay Alive
An astoundingly compelling thriller. Beyond tense. You hardly breathe. Best read in ages.

Reader Reviews

Betty Taylor

Our Inner Demons
Be prepared – the last half of this book will keep you reading all night. I think there are times that we all struggle with our inner demons. This is only natural. There’s the part of us that wants to please everyone, and there’s the part that ...   Read More

Elaine

Good Me Bad Me
I was very lucky to receive this book. I started reading one evening and because I had to sleep I did not finish that night but the next evening. Annie a 15 year old's mom is a serial killer. Growing up with this terrible life she becomes immune ...   Read More

lani

A Taut Suspenseful Read
Could. Not. Put. This. Down...I started in the morning, read through lunch, read through supper and did not go to bed before it was complete. The writing was taut, suspenseful, and unrelenting. My stomach was in knots throughout and it took a while ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Notorious Female Serial Killers

In Ali Land's debut, Good Me, Bad Me, Ruth Thompson is on trial for the heinous murders of multiple children. The case is notable not only for the particularly brutal nature of the crime, but also, in part, because Ruth is a woman, and society's perceptions of women who commit violent crimes is often skewed. We stereotype men as aggressive and women as caring, which makes it seem all the more perverse when women are convicted as serial killers. While a horrible and shocking topic, humans seem to have an underlying fascination with the grotesque – making shows like Law and Order and CSI hits. For those interested in reading about some of history's most notorious female serial killers, here are five that will keep you up at ...

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