Guilty Pleasure? Most of us have them. Mine is reading in the True Crime genre. Over the years, I have read dozens of books in the genre, and I appreciate a well-researched story of a family gone wrong…but this one was just so, so sad.
This sad story takes place in Toronto, so it was interesting to see the differences in the way the criminal justice and court systems work there in comparison to here…and there was a lot of detail around using cell phone records (more detail than you want, believe me). This began as something I was really into, having spent a lot of time on the details of the Adnan Syed fiasco and the (mis)use of cell phone records during a trial…but to be honest, it just bogged down for me. (Possibly an editing issue that might have been summarized for readers who want the point without the extreme detail?)
In any case, this book tells the story of two hardworking Vietnamese immigrants and their daughter, Jennifer. They raised her with very high standards: winning and being the best at everything was essential. Over the years, their daughter began to realize that she could not meet their high standards, so she started forging report cards. Then, she developed elaborate lies as she claimed to have not only attended college, but graduated – none of which was true!
Finally, she had enough of the lies and the fear that her parents would find out who and what she really was, so she arranged to have people break into their home at night and kill her parents. After listening to her mother being tortured and killed, she heard her father moaning in agony and realized he wasn’t dead yet – so she called out to tell him she was calling 911. She pretended to have been a victim of the invaders herself, and…oh, it is just too awful to go through it again.
There is a lot of interpretation by mental health experts (one in particular, who had not treated Jennifer) claiming she and her parents were “mismatched” (whatever THAT means), and possibly that this was the logical result of the decades of “Tiger Mother” parenting and pressure to perform and succeed. To me, it was a cold, spoiled child who was unwilling to expend effort to achieve things she wanted and who just went down what was seemingly the easiest path. I hated her. The book was well done, but I really hated her and in the end, I do NOT understand her actions. But fans of true crime will likely appreciate this one. I want to only give it three stars because I hated her so much, but I realized the author was very effective if his words had that impact on me, so four stars and thanks to Dundum and NetGalley.