Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land is a difficult book to review without giving anything away. It is compulsive, difficult reading, and though I raced through it I can’t honestly say I enjoyed it.
Teenager Annie is living with a foster family whilst waiting to give evidence at her mother’s trial. Her mother is accused of being a serial killer of children, Annie turned her in to the police. As she waits for the trial, Annie [now called Milly] is coached by her foster father on how to handle being in court and giving evidence under cross-examination. For Milly, there is no escaping her horrible childhood. As Mike tells her, the only way out is through. But Milly isn’t telling Mike everything.
Milly’s identity is secret, her name false, her reason for being fostered is fabricated. In this world of officially-approved lies, Milly must face her memories of what happened: what is real, and not-real. What did her mother really do? What did Milly do? At times of stress – and there are many as she fits into a foster family with an unwelcoming teenage daughter – Milly hears the voice of her mother in her head, encouraging her to be controlling, to be nasty. This is the ‘good me, bad me’ of the title. Of course every person is a mixture of light and dark, what matters is the decisions we make. Will Milly be able to let go of her past and make a new life?
Covering the few tense weeks in the run-up to the trial, Good Me Bad Me is a turbulent emotional read. One minute I thought ‘please don’t do that, Milly’, the next I was indignant on Milly’s behalf at some of her foul treatment at the hands of school friends. The picture of teenagers, girls selfish and taunting, boys over-sexualised, is not an easy-read. You will make up your own mind whether to like Milly and whether to believe her.
‘Good Me Bad Me’ by Ali Land [UK: Michael Joseph] Buy at Amazon
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Bleak and compulsive: GOOD ME BAD ME by @byAliLand #bookreview via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2ip