Kaira Rouda creates the perfect unreliable narrator in ‘The Favorite Daughter’

Title: The Favorite Daughter
Author: Kaira Rouda
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Length: 336 p
Publishing Date21 May 2019

No. My heart is thumping. But not with panic. With anger. And with something else. I feel alive.

It’s been one year almost to the day since Jane Harris’s oldest daughter, Mary, fell from a cliff into the dark waters of the Pacific Ocean. Jane, too, has been swallowed up: by grief and by the pills her psychiatrist has put her on. She’s barely left the house except for therapy appointments, is too fragile to drive herself, and is terrified of the ocean. But now on the eve of the anniversary of her daughter’s death, Jane is ready to make a change. She’s done away with the pills and plans on using the memorial as her debut back into Orange County society. Jane is in control. Sort of.

There are a few problems with Jane’s vision of the future. Her husband of twenty years, David, is cheating on her with his assistant from work. Her surviving daughter, Betsy, keeps as much distance from her mother as possible. It’s only a minor setback, Jane tells her audience. She has a plan on how to get things back on track. Or, just how to get back—at the people who’ve wronged her.

But first, I’ll make sure the life he’s planning for himself, for them, will turn into the nightmare he deserves.

Jane is the perfect narrator. Which is to say, she knows exactly the way she wants her audience to see her. The narration style Rouda employs has Jane telling the story directly to the reader, as if you’re her best friend and confidant. As such, Jane reveals information when it’s most convenient for her, bringing into question not just whether or not she’s telling the truth, but who is really responsible for Mary’s death.

The Favorite Daughter was equal parts delightful, wicked, and terrifying as we delve deeper into the mind of a narcissist. This was a page turner, not just because I wanted to figure out what Jane’s deal was, but because I wanted to know how her revenge was going to be served. The Favorite Daughter is a perfect pool-side read.

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