Good Me Bad Me - Ali Land

This is a most unusual insightful story into the mind of a 15 year old. Annie's mum had been a killer, a taker of the innocent lives of children. Following the demise of a young boy called Daniel Annie has decided for her own sanity she must ask for help and disclose the evil deeds perpetrated by her mother. But can Annie ever be truly free from the clutches of an evil parent, are family relations so strong that the mind of an innocent child can be warped and twisted  by a misguided and immoral parent...is blood really thicker than water?

 

The story is told from the perspective of Annie and her new beginning as "Milly" under the guardianship of Mike, Saskia and their daughter Phoebe. This opportunity or fostering is to protect Milly and prepare her for the trial of her mother where she will be called as the main witness for the prosecution. But this story is much more than a simple trial, rather it shows the vulnerabilities, manipulation, envy and hatred that together make up the human condition. Phoebe is jealous of having to endure the company of Milly and is incensed that she is no longer the centre of attention so she embarks on a course of action, a war of attrition to humiliate and degrade her, inciting her friends to do the same. Mention is made on a number of occasions to William Golding's Lord of the Flies where the author paints a picture of a civilization consumed by savagery and chaos, the animal instincts of human nature. Indeed I found an uncomfortable familiarity between this classic novel and the predicament of Milly....but who's really manipulating who??

 

Good me Bad me is a very intense, claustrophobic experience, being trapped in the mind of child as she struggles to make sense of her situation. It is this entrapment that gives the dialogue a very edgy delivery creating some uncomfortable moments. Is Milly truly the innocent she attempts to portray or is there within her character an inherent evil that allows her to mould and manipulate those around her for her own gratification.

 

It came as no surprise to learn that the author spent many years working as a mental health nurse with children and adolescents, and she has certainly used this experience to create a novel of great depth and insight. I enjoyed it immensely and in particular the ending which although expected was still shocking when it occurred. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written