Book Review

Daughter

Daughter

  • Author: Kate McLaughlin
  • Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
  • Publication Date: March 8, 2022
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

CONTENT WARNING: mention of marijuana use, mention of rape, mention of murder, mention of necrophilia, violence

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Scarlet’s life is pretty average. Overly protective mom. Great friends. Cute boy she’s interested in. And a father she’s never known – until she does.

When the FBI show up at Scarlet’s door, she is shocked to learn her father is infamous serial killer Jeffrey Robert Lake. And now, he’s dying and will only give the names and locations of his remaining victims to the one person, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

Scarlet’s mother has tried to protect her from Lake’s horrifying legacy, but there’s no way they can escape the media firestorm that erupts when they come out of hiding. Or the people who blame Scarlet for her father’s choices. When trying to do the right thing puts her life in danger, Scarlet is faced with a choice – go back into hiding or make the world see her as more than a monster’s daughter.

Kate McLaughlin’s Daughter is a novel about trying right deadly choices that were never yours to begin with.

I had previously read This is What Unbreakable Looks Like, so I kind of expected a bumpy ride. McLaughlin doesn’t hold back — her first book is about sex trafficking, and this one explores the weight of being the child of a serial killer. However, instead of glamorizing the story, like we see so often in the news, it focuses on the effects one person’s crimes can have on a wide range of other people. 

Scarlet is basically the epitome of an American teenager, except that her mom is way more overprotective of her than most mothers are. To the point where Scarlet is feeling suffocated. But even with all of that, I loved how it always showcases Scarlet’s sweet and empathetic side. She has a good relationship with her mother, and understands that something is causing her mother to be so worried, but just doesn’t know what it is. 

When the FBI arrives, Scarlet’s entire world is turned upside down. She discovers that she isn’t who she thought she was all along, and that her father is a literal monster. He’s a serial killer, and not all of his victims have been found. And he’ll only release the names to Scarlet. Forcing her into the worst dilemma of her life:

“What will be worse—facing Lake, or living with all those unknown dead girls?”

Scarlet is forced to make the difficult choice, of facing her father to help the families of additional girls get closure, or avoiding him and having to live with knowing that she could have done more to help law enforcement and the families of the missing girls. What she doesn’t expect is how much this bombshell is going to change her life from the outside.

The story was written fairly simply, and from Scarlet’s POV. This allows us to get insight into not just what is happening around her, but what she’s thinking and feeling. I liked her personality, and it’s easy to empathize with her situation, as things go from bad to worse. There are some good parts too, as Scarlet tries to maintain a sense of normality in her life. And I love how she approaches the situations that arise.

One of the things that I loved the most about this story is the way that anxiety is addressed. Scarlet struggles with anxiety, and while there is quite a bit of alcohol and marijuana use throughout the story, it’s made clear that Scarlet uses it as a form of self-medication. But what I found especially well-done was the way that the topic of using medication as a form of treatment is approached. I would have liked to see some additional coping skills mentioned, but this line particularly stood out to me, as well as the fact that Scarlet doesn’t automatically turn to her medication for every stressor:

“Mom has always said that my anxiety is no different from having asthma or some other condition I’d have to take drugs to treat, and I know she’s right.”

This story really made me think about the weight people carry of decisions that fall on their shoulders, even if the consequences they are paying aren’t for their own actions, but those of someone else. In Scarlet’s case, she faces blowback from events that happened before she was born. But she approaches it with grace and strength, and it was interesting to see how much she changed over the course of the book. This is one of those reads that will stick with me for a long time. While it centers Scarlet, it also makes a strong effort to center the innocent victims of the crimes that they end up being best known for. It wasn’t always an easy read, but it was absolutely worthwhile in this fast-moving and thought-provoking story.

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