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book review: The Other Daughter

The Other Daughter by Lisa Gardner was darker than what I’m used to, but I liked it. I liked it even more after it confirmed my sniffer theory. Did you know your sense of smell is connected with the memory center of the brain?

The main character in the story, Melanie Stokes, was adopted into a rich family at age nine. She had no memory of what happened before she became a member of the Stokes family; she didn’t remember her mother or her father, or even her real name. Her arrival in the family was a happiness in a family wrought with sadness; the Stokes family lost a 4-year-old daughter (Meagan) to murder five years before Melanie came into their lives.

The mystery — and part of the darkness — of the book comes when Melanie and the rest of her family begin to receive messages having to do with Meagan’s murder, 20 years before. This is also where the sniffer theory comes in. Melanie’s message was almost purely related to her sense of smell.

Even thought the book was a bit dark, I liked the mystery to it. I liked that the author carefully crafted her writing. I recognized some of the tricks I try to teach my budding authors; and the book required more than half my brain for me to keep track of what was happening. I was merrily led down some specific paths of thought (much like the characters in the book), only to be surprised near the end. Definite ‘like’!

Of course, as with all mass-produced fiction, there is an obligatory love story. Melanie gets mixed up with a man very early on in the book. He wants to save her, she wants to comfort him… yada yada yada. I recognize that the book *had* to include the romance, though I find it hard to believe the theory that’s so prevalent in modern love stories.

The theory reads: A man and a woman will pledge their happily-ever-after-undying love for each other after spending just a few harrowing days together. You know… the we’ve-been-through-hell-so-we-can-get-through-anything theory? Someday I’d really like to see a book that has a couple get through a harrowing time and wait patiently for some time to pass to see if they still like each other.

Anyway, the book was a decent escape from grading papers and planning poetry units. I liked the writing, and I’ll read more of Lisa Gardner’s books. She has a fun style!

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