Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard

Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson are both born on the same day in a small rural hospital to two very different families. The Planks have run the same family farm for two hundred years. Edwin loves his life as a farmer and his stoic wife Connie is the perfect farmer’s wife. Together they have four daughters, with Ruth making the fifth daughter. The Dickerson family consists of Valerie, an artist, and George a writer/dreamer. Together they can’t hold a job down and struggle to make a living. They have one son, Ray, and their new daughter Dana. That doesn’t stop their optimism though as George spends his life striving to make it big.

The “birthday sisters” do not actually have much to do with each other, but they find their lives inexplicably linked together through time. They each find themselves the odd one out in their family with only Edwin able to understand their true selves.

There is a major twist in The Good Daughters that I had figured out very early in the novel. Although I knew the destination, I still greatly enjoyed the journey getting there. I thought the prose was beautiful and almost lyrical at times. I most of all relished seeing the journey of the two girls throughout their life from birth until approximately age sixty. I loved the story time frame with Ruth and Dana being born in 1950. Their experiences growing up were buffeted at times by historical events such as the JFK assassination, Woodstock, etc. and it was interesting seeing the history played out through two very different girls’ lives. I also enjoyed it as I found it relatable. Ruth and Dana would be about five years older than my own parents and their parents are my grandparents’ age. Many circumstances of the novel, especially of life on the Plank farm reminded me of my own family.

Ruth and Dana also had two very different love stories that were both moving in their own ways. I was especially moved by Dana’s story.


There was one plot point that did majorly annoy me. One of the girls is taken by her mother to get an abortion when she is 24 and it is made to seem that her mother made her do it. Come on, at 24 you should be making your own decisions. I can’t believe a woman at that age would let her mother dictate something like this, especially without any explanation on why the abortion was necessary. It was the only point in the book that rang false in an otherwise very realistic novel.


Overall, The Good Daughters is an interesting, yet moving journey through the lives of two very different girls from 1950s to the present day. Read it for the snap shot of America and great personal stories, not for the plot twists.

I read The Good Daughters as part of the TLC Book Tours.  Please visit the rest of the stops on this fantastic tour!

Book Source: HarperCollins Publishers. Thank-you!


  1. I like books that give me a glimpse into other time periods so I'm glad to see you mention that here. Thanks for being on the tour!

  2. I just posted my review of this one and I must admit that I didn't have things quite figured out til the end when all was revealed. I was getting quite frustrated til I got there!

  3. Great review.

    I really liked this book too. I didn't figure out the end either. :)


  4. These are the best books, in my opinion: "Although I knew the destination, I still greatly enjoyed the journey getting there."

  5. Wonderful review, Laura! 24 does seem old enough to make decisions on one's own. For some reason, I always pictured the author with dark hair.

  6. I love books that take you through a life (in this case, lives) with all of the ups and downs and differing perspectives. Thank you for such an insightful review.