The Good Daughters—Two sides of the same coin, or should I say strawberry plants? (Once you read the book, you’ll know what I mean.)Through Joyce Maynard’s insightful writing, I found the off-shoots, Dana and Ruth, to be not only good daughters, but also strong women, each with a powerful belief in herself that held true through times of duress as well as triumph. I would have welcomed both of them as my daughters and loved each girl expressly for the very uniqueness of her character and spirit.
At times, I wanted to look directly into the faces of the girls’ mothers, Connie and Val, and ask, “What the heck are your problems? Can’t you like your daughters if they aren’t the spitting image of you?” From the beginning, however, I admired and genuinely liked Connie’s husband, Edwin Plank, the solid farmer, with his knack for plant propagation, for his seeming fair mindedness and acceptance that things were as they should be. But were they? Who was the elephant in the room that everyone stepped around for decades?
Maynard portrayed in Plank an honorable and understanding personality, but I began to see, as the story unfurled, that something was amiss. This man, this father, carefully placed selected strawberry shoots, spacing them evenly around the mother plant, like rays of the sun, letting them take root for the next season. (But was he as careful with the women in his life?) This act may be best for raising strawberries to be their finest, but I came away believing mothers and daughters of the human variety need to settle into their own nests—leaving Edwin’s husbandry for the cultivation of plants and livestock would have lessened the grief and confusion that dominated the lives of two families.
Maynard does know how to tell a story depicting the human condition as few others. She makes you squirm a little, and think a lot, and, even though you may think you know exactly what’s going on, you won’t until she thinks it is time to let you know. This engaging tale will stay with you long after you have read the last sentence of The Good Daughters.
Now, as "The Story Woman," I'm asking you to write a memoir about your daughter.