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The Favorite Daughter

An unreliable narrator tells us quite the story of the perfect daughter she lost, and the daughter that could never measure up.



Jane Harris lives in a beautiful home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems unlikely to ever be touched by sadness. One year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely left the house. Now that’s all about to change.

Jane is reclaiming her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane re-enters the world, it’s clear her family has moved on without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive.

And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?

The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…


Kaira Rouda loves writing with unreliable narrators, and Jane Harris is just about the worst. As a narcissist, she is obsessed with the perception of how things looks and she has grandiose opinions of her self-worth, her looks and her abilities. I definitely didn’t like her character, and literally felt sick reading about the chaos she was creating. The familiar way Jane narrated the story, occasionally using the “you” pronoun when addressing the reader bothered me. I didnt like being drawn into Jane’s story, as if she was physically here bragging to me about what a great mother she was. Not!

That being said, I stayed with the book and found it a quick and easy. My favorite part was how Betsy persevered despite losing her sister and her mother’s continual criticism, manipulation and deceit.

Author Kaira Rouda is a best selling author of contemporary fiction novels exploring what goes on behind closed doors of seemingly perfect lives. She lives in Southern California with her family. Thanks to Netgalley, Graydon House and Kaira Rouda for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher Graydon House

Published May 21, 2019

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