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The Officer's Daughter: A Memoir of Family and Forgiveness

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" The Officer’s Daughter  is a masterpiece. More than that, it's the perfect book for our troubled time. Johnson has written the deepest, most emotionally resonant understanding of forgiveness and justice I have ever read."—Darin Strauss, bestselling author of  Half a Life The author reflects on a terrible tragedy that forever altered the fabric of her family in this r " The Officer’s Daughter  is a masterpiece. More than that, it's the perfect book for our troubled time. Johnson has written the deepest, most emotionally resonant understanding of forgiveness and justice I have ever read."—Darin Strauss, bestselling author of  Half a Life The author reflects on a terrible tragedy that forever altered the fabric of her family in this remarkable memoir, a heart-wrenching story of love, violence, coming of age, secrets, justice, and forgiveness.  When she was sixteen, Elle Johnson lived in Queens with her family; she dreamed of being best friends with her popular, cool cousin Karen from the Bronx.  Coming from a family of black law enforcement officers, Elle felt that Karen would understand her in a way no one else could. Elle’s father was a highly protective, at times overbearing, parole officer; her uncle, Karen’s dad, was a homicide detective.  On an ordinary night, the Johnson family’s lives were changed forever. Karen was shot and killed in a robbery gone wrong at the Burger King where she worked. The NYPD and FBI launched a cross-country manhunt to find the killers, and the subsequent trials and media circus marked the end of Elle's childhood innocence. Thirty years later, Elle was living in Los Angeles and working as a television writer, including on many police procedural shows, when she received an unexpected request. One of Karen’s killers was eligible for parole, and her older brother asked Elle to write a letter to the parole board arguing against his release. Elle realized that before she could condemn a man she’d never met to remain in prison, she had to face the hard truths of her own past: of a family who didn’t speak of the murder and its devastating effect, of the secrets they buried, of a complicated father she never truly understood.  The Officer's Daughter is a piercing memoir that explores with unflinching honesty what parents can and cannot do to protect their children, the reverberations of violence on survivors’ lives, and the overwhelming power of forgiveness, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy.


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" The Officer’s Daughter  is a masterpiece. More than that, it's the perfect book for our troubled time. Johnson has written the deepest, most emotionally resonant understanding of forgiveness and justice I have ever read."—Darin Strauss, bestselling author of  Half a Life The author reflects on a terrible tragedy that forever altered the fabric of her family in this r " The Officer’s Daughter  is a masterpiece. More than that, it's the perfect book for our troubled time. Johnson has written the deepest, most emotionally resonant understanding of forgiveness and justice I have ever read."—Darin Strauss, bestselling author of  Half a Life The author reflects on a terrible tragedy that forever altered the fabric of her family in this remarkable memoir, a heart-wrenching story of love, violence, coming of age, secrets, justice, and forgiveness.  When she was sixteen, Elle Johnson lived in Queens with her family; she dreamed of being best friends with her popular, cool cousin Karen from the Bronx.  Coming from a family of black law enforcement officers, Elle felt that Karen would understand her in a way no one else could. Elle’s father was a highly protective, at times overbearing, parole officer; her uncle, Karen’s dad, was a homicide detective.  On an ordinary night, the Johnson family’s lives were changed forever. Karen was shot and killed in a robbery gone wrong at the Burger King where she worked. The NYPD and FBI launched a cross-country manhunt to find the killers, and the subsequent trials and media circus marked the end of Elle's childhood innocence. Thirty years later, Elle was living in Los Angeles and working as a television writer, including on many police procedural shows, when she received an unexpected request. One of Karen’s killers was eligible for parole, and her older brother asked Elle to write a letter to the parole board arguing against his release. Elle realized that before she could condemn a man she’d never met to remain in prison, she had to face the hard truths of her own past: of a family who didn’t speak of the murder and its devastating effect, of the secrets they buried, of a complicated father she never truly understood.  The Officer's Daughter is a piercing memoir that explores with unflinching honesty what parents can and cannot do to protect their children, the reverberations of violence on survivors’ lives, and the overwhelming power of forgiveness, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

30 review for The Officer's Daughter: A Memoir of Family and Forgiveness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Narrated with tremendous insight and compassion, “The Officer’s Daughter: A Memoir of Family and Forgiveness” (2021) is written by Elle Johnson, a television screen writer for the notable programs: The Fosters, Finding Carter, The Glades and Law and Order, she lives in California. On April 4th 1981, her beloved cousin Karen, 16, was shot to death in a robbery while working at her neighborhood Burger King in the Bronx. According to various media accounts Karen’s shooting had been an accident. Kare Narrated with tremendous insight and compassion, “The Officer’s Daughter: A Memoir of Family and Forgiveness” (2021) is written by Elle Johnson, a television screen writer for the notable programs: The Fosters, Finding Carter, The Glades and Law and Order, she lives in California. On April 4th 1981, her beloved cousin Karen, 16, was shot to death in a robbery while working at her neighborhood Burger King in the Bronx. According to various media accounts Karen’s shooting had been an accident. Karen’s father, a police officer and her own father, a parole officer had vowed to bring those responsible to justice. The entire community mourned this tragedy along with her family. Haunted by this unspeakable loss, Johnson related the lasting effects on her family: Karen’s parents eventually separated, though never divorced, and had asked her not to visit because she closely resembled Karen. The impact of domestic violence within her own family, along with the gruff harshness of her father’s demeanor and decline from a cancer diagnosis had to be dealt with. Tragically, gun violence involving children/teens/young adults has risen to epidemic levels since Karen was killed. The man who murdered Karen was always denied parole. In 2014, Johnson was asked to write a letter to the parole board, and couldn’t help but wonder if he was truly sorry or filled with remorse. There was no letter of apology for her family on file with the court. For Johnson, the value of sharing her story kept Karen and her father close to her heart. **With thanks to the Seattle Public Library.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Writing continuity and flow is flawed. This doesn't hang together well. She seems trying to get in tangents of days or events to point to the title or murder case issues. Often they just don't. I thought the dedication intro was central. Hope her mother does as the author suggested. Forgive her for writing this. Because this book is cited upon direction between/ with her own father and their relationship far more than re her cousin's case. Or any wider issue of parole priorities either. The trail Writing continuity and flow is flawed. This doesn't hang together well. She seems trying to get in tangents of days or events to point to the title or murder case issues. Often they just don't. I thought the dedication intro was central. Hope her mother does as the author suggested. Forgive her for writing this. Because this book is cited upon direction between/ with her own father and their relationship far more than re her cousin's case. Or any wider issue of parole priorities either. The trailer for this is misleading. It is not a masterpiece or is it deep. Not shallow either, but also not at all in the context as stated in the description.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    In 1981, Johnson’s sixteen-year-old cousin Karen was shot and killed during a robbery at a Bronx Burger King, where she was working night shifts to raise money for a trip to Spain. Karen’s father was a homicide detective and Johnson’s was a parole officer, so the author understood the ins and outs of the policework that went into finding Karen’s killer, Santiago Ramirez, during a two-week, nationwide manhunt. His parole hearing in 2014 led her to delve back into her memories of the crime and its In 1981, Johnson’s sixteen-year-old cousin Karen was shot and killed during a robbery at a Bronx Burger King, where she was working night shifts to raise money for a trip to Spain. Karen’s father was a homicide detective and Johnson’s was a parole officer, so the author understood the ins and outs of the policework that went into finding Karen’s killer, Santiago Ramirez, during a two-week, nationwide manhunt. His parole hearing in 2014 led her to delve back into her memories of the crime and its aftermath, while learning all she could about Ramirez through trial transcripts and other documents. In seeking to understand him, she found that she was also able to forgive her father for the domestic violence he inflicted on her mother. While I was impressed by how painstakingly Johnson reconstructs scenes and events from the 1980s, the story was overly detailed and I felt it was more like a novel or a plotline from one of her TV projects – Johnson has written for Homicide and Bosch. This might appeal to readers of Memorial Drive and Your House Will Pay.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    This is definitely a memoir that pulls at your heart strings, Elle writes about her cousin Karen. When they were both 16 years old Karen was working at a Burger King and was shot point blank in the face with a sawed off shotgun. The author goes through the details of the incident and how it impacted her family, the family that was torn in having to bury a 16 year old girl. Especially since Karen was murdered when two men and another in a get away car were trying to rob the Burger King.  The auth This is definitely a memoir that pulls at your heart strings, Elle writes about her cousin Karen. When they were both 16 years old Karen was working at a Burger King and was shot point blank in the face with a sawed off shotgun. The author goes through the details of the incident and how it impacted her family, the family that was torn in having to bury a 16 year old girl. Especially since Karen was murdered when two men and another in a get away car were trying to rob the Burger King.  The author also went through the emotions she felt at that time, how the murder of her cousin effected her achademics and even her personality. Elle has not a difficult but a very different relationship with her father who was a Parole Officer. He liked to control all aspects of his family's lives and was  very mistaken on what he could and could not control in his daughters lives.  Then, the author also jumps into the present time and explains or basically talks out her emotions and forgiveness of the men who are up for Parole. The author sets out to find out the truth of what happened that night and she writes a letter for the man that accidentally shot her cousin or not a letter but a statement for his parole hearing. Now, this story will squeeze your heart. There is no way you are going to read this book and not have your heart strings pulled. I requested this book because I am a Crime Junkie and anything about true crime I like to read, what I read wasn't what I had originally expected but it was so good. I felt the emotions written were real and raw. I definitely would recommend this to anyone who loves true crime or also anyone who has been in the situation where forgiveness is needed. I would definitely read more from this author.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    If you are hearing a lot of the word "intersecionality" bantered about these days, this book does a pretty good job of defining many aspects of that concept. Elle Johnson grew up a POC girl-woman with parents who had had to work hard to gain a good education and learn all the classist techniques to rise in their marketability as a middleclass New York family. Elle's father was a parole officer, which gave him certain access to legal information. He worked long hours to maintain his reputation. E If you are hearing a lot of the word "intersecionality" bantered about these days, this book does a pretty good job of defining many aspects of that concept. Elle Johnson grew up a POC girl-woman with parents who had had to work hard to gain a good education and learn all the classist techniques to rise in their marketability as a middleclass New York family. Elle's father was a parole officer, which gave him certain access to legal information. He worked long hours to maintain his reputation. Elle's mother was an English language teacher in a private school. Elle and her sister were sent to a private Lutheran School where they further learned "to pass" as white, although she talks about the racism that popped up unexpectedly in high school. (Both Elle and her sister are Harvard graduates.) While her Dad seems quite proud, protective, and loving towards his daughters, he is also narcissistic at times, and the misogyny that occurs then sort of cancels out the loving, caring traits for his daughters and wife. While Elle and her sister seemingly enjoyed a level of privilege and a protective father/mother, they were also witnesses to violence in their home. And in her latter teens, an incident occurred that affect the whole family circle in different/similar ways, as documented by Elle's memories, dreams, and eventually, her more systematic research thirty years after the event. Elle Johnson is a successful TV crime writer. She brings a professional sheen to a sad, dark, frightening, story and writes about her personal journey of forgiveness that could well be a model for others who find themselves confronting similar crises in their families.

  6. 4 out of 5

    VL

    What a tough book but so necessary and fascinating.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Vu

    To be completely honest with everyone, I really thought I was going to dislike this book. I read the reviews (some of them weren't all that great), and at the beginning, I was worried that it was going to be a really boring book that I would have to try to tread through. Surprisingly, I found myself connecting with the author. Throughout the book, Johnson focuses on discussing her feelings towards her cousin Karen's killer(s), as well as her father. Growing up, my father's attitude and personali To be completely honest with everyone, I really thought I was going to dislike this book. I read the reviews (some of them weren't all that great), and at the beginning, I was worried that it was going to be a really boring book that I would have to try to tread through. Surprisingly, I found myself connecting with the author. Throughout the book, Johnson focuses on discussing her feelings towards her cousin Karen's killer(s), as well as her father. Growing up, my father's attitude and personality was very similar to Johnson's father (possessive, hot-tempered, unpredictable, scary, surprisingly generous at moments); at times she was upset with him, remembered the trauma that her father put her through, and some of the good times where her father shined. It took her a long time to forgive her father. I understood what she was going through; there were times where she wanted to let go and forgive him, and there were also times where there was so much anger and sadness that she was unable to. Although I've never experienced a murder of a family member, I felt the rawness of the grief and rage that she encountered. How do you forgive someone that murdered your family member? Or maybe you do want to forgive them, but you know you can never bring that family member back. It's a difficult decision that she had to face. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book; a must-read memoir in my list. **A huge thanks to Goodreads, Harper-Collins and author Elle Johnson for this ARC; all thoughts and opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by this giveaway**

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    It's not often that you come across a memoir so brutally honest and beautifully written as Elle Johnson's book. She brings a depth of experience and wisdom to a childhood event that resonates throughout her life. My heart broke at the tragedy that her family experiences, the loss of her beloved cousin, and how she must reckon with it years later as the killer faces parole again. She paints a complex picture not only of her relationship with her cousin, and her yearning for closeness, but also of It's not often that you come across a memoir so brutally honest and beautifully written as Elle Johnson's book. She brings a depth of experience and wisdom to a childhood event that resonates throughout her life. My heart broke at the tragedy that her family experiences, the loss of her beloved cousin, and how she must reckon with it years later as the killer faces parole again. She paints a complex picture not only of her relationship with her cousin, and her yearning for closeness, but also of her relationship with her father. It's obvious that this single event changed lives forever, including hers, and her powerful attention to details and memory make it all come alive. The dedication to her mother makes clear that this was not an easy book for her to write, not that I would expect it to be. It is also incredibly timely in an era when family divides, racism, restorative justice, and forgiveness are more at the forefront of our minds than ever. Elle Johnson has provided a story that may help us better understand those ruptures and find a way forward. Highly recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    This memoir is about more than a horrible crime- it's about examining the things about your family that you've shoved down. Johnson's cousin Karen was murdered in a botched robbery when they were 16. When Santiago Rodriguez, one of those convicted for the crime, is up for parole, Johnson finds herself unable to write a letter arguing against it, as her brother has urged. Now a writer in Hollywood (it shows), she sets off on a quest to know something more about Rodriguez than that which has becom This memoir is about more than a horrible crime- it's about examining the things about your family that you've shoved down. Johnson's cousin Karen was murdered in a botched robbery when they were 16. When Santiago Rodriguez, one of those convicted for the crime, is up for parole, Johnson finds herself unable to write a letter arguing against it, as her brother has urged. Now a writer in Hollywood (it shows), she sets off on a quest to know something more about Rodriguez than that which has become legend in the family. Her father and Karen's were both in law enforcement, which shaped how the family thought about crime but her father was a conflicted man. It's hard to review memoirs because it feels as though you are passing judgment on someone's life- but Johnson has done that on her own. The twin influences of Karen's murder and her father's abuse and control issues shaped her. Her ability to forgive is impressive. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. A good thought provoking read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Esme

    Emotionally, I understand everything the author put in this book, and I know she was trying to make the point that we as people aren’t only the worst thing we’ve ever done – there is redemption, there is hope. She was making the connection between her father (who beat her mother) and the men who participated in the robbery that ended with her cousin dead, maybe my issue is that I didn’t think it was perfectly executed or perhaps there just wasn’t enough material present for her to write the book Emotionally, I understand everything the author put in this book, and I know she was trying to make the point that we as people aren’t only the worst thing we’ve ever done – there is redemption, there is hope. She was making the connection between her father (who beat her mother) and the men who participated in the robbery that ended with her cousin dead, maybe my issue is that I didn’t think it was perfectly executed or perhaps there just wasn’t enough material present for her to write the book she wanted to write. I too lost a cousin to violence, a very complicated grief since it was only one of many horrible dominos that eventually fell. So I get all of her indecision, and conflicting emotions. She’s asked to write a letter to the parole board, but then she never gets around to writing it, and the men are paroled. So, hmm. I also, didn’t care for her blunt, graphic opening statement to this memoir. I mean, I get what she was trying to achieve, I just thought it was in poor taste, done for shock value, and demeans her cousin as nothing more than a mutilated corpse. Her cousin deserved more respect than that. She also repeats that line later in the book, and I just stopped and thought, why are you saying this again? What does this achieve, are you trying to shock some kind of emotional response out of us or yourself?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michaela Haas

    A masterful memoir about the many nuances of forgiveness. When the author gets the request to write a letter to the parole board in charge of the decision whether to release the man who murdered the author's cousin, it is the beginning of a journey that takes many unexpected turns. The memories take her deeper and deeper into confronting her own desires and fears, remembering long-suppressed conflicts with her father, a controlling parole officer, and the fallout of a crime that still reverberat A masterful memoir about the many nuances of forgiveness. When the author gets the request to write a letter to the parole board in charge of the decision whether to release the man who murdered the author's cousin, it is the beginning of a journey that takes many unexpected turns. The memories take her deeper and deeper into confronting her own desires and fears, remembering long-suppressed conflicts with her father, a controlling parole officer, and the fallout of a crime that still reverberates decades later. I love the sophisticated observations of the author who grew up Black in a predominantly white environment. A very timely research into what justice means, how to decide whether someone is worthy of redemption, and also a rare intimate glimpse into the conflicted role of a Black parole officer who is desperate for control in a world where he has none. There are so many levels to this must-read memoir I think I'll read it all over again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Koesel

    OK, I don’t like to talk about someone’s memoirs as being flawed, but I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I did not like this book at all. It’s a short story, and yet I really struggled to get through it. I like crime stories and enjoy this genre yet I couldn’t get into this book or the characters. The flow and the set up were all wrong. It flip-flopped between present and past, which is fine and I think everyone is used to that style by by now in books, but OK, I don’t like to talk about someone’s memoirs as being flawed, but I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I did not like this book at all. It’s a short story, and yet I really struggled to get through it. I like crime stories and enjoy this genre yet I couldn’t get into this book or the characters. The flow and the set up were all wrong. It flip-flopped between present and past, which is fine and I think everyone is used to that style by by now in books, but sometimes it was unclear which timeframe the author was speaking about. She would date chapter headers as past present etc., and then proceed to change into another timeframe. It just didn’t fit and seemed like she was saying “Oh, I have something to tell you, let me just stick this here.” It was like listening to somebody’s train of thought that just came out of their head and out on to paper, instead of a book that should’ve been logically thought out. Things were very missed miss-matched and haphazard. This made it hard to follow what was going on sometimes and get into the characters. The characters were real life people who you were supposed to have some sort of a emotion for but ultimately I just didn’t, and I feel bad about that, but I think this needs a lot of work because it could be good!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Christa

    Thank you Harper and NetGalley for the ARC of The Officer's Daughter by Elle Johnson. This story has a good message especially for someone who can identify with the events in the story. Unfortunately, I did not have any personal connection with the events and characters in Elle's story so I found it difficult to read. Although, I feel that those who have had to consider other's release from prison or had a loved one put in prison or even lost someone close to them to a crime could very much enjo Thank you Harper and NetGalley for the ARC of The Officer's Daughter by Elle Johnson. This story has a good message especially for someone who can identify with the events in the story. Unfortunately, I did not have any personal connection with the events and characters in Elle's story so I found it difficult to read. Although, I feel that those who have had to consider other's release from prison or had a loved one put in prison or even lost someone close to them to a crime could very much enjoy her story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    Johnson's cousin was shot and killed while working at a Burger King in the Bronx when she was just sixteen years old. Johnson's father and uncle both worked in law enforcement and vowed to find the killer and get revenge. Now, forty years later, Johnson recounts that time in her life and how Karen's death affected her and her family. Johnson's memoir must have been cathartic to write as she also deals with conflicting feelings about her father, who abused her mother and acted as a dictator in th Johnson's cousin was shot and killed while working at a Burger King in the Bronx when she was just sixteen years old. Johnson's father and uncle both worked in law enforcement and vowed to find the killer and get revenge. Now, forty years later, Johnson recounts that time in her life and how Karen's death affected her and her family. Johnson's memoir must have been cathartic to write as she also deals with conflicting feelings about her father, who abused her mother and acted as a dictator in their family.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Kelly

    Elle's cousin is 16, same as Elle, when she is killed in a robbery of the fast-food restaurant where she works. Elle and her family must come to terms with the disturbing death and with the violence that lurks just under the surface in their interactions with each other. Elle relives the trauma as an adult when she is asked to write a letter arguing against the release of the killer. The book explores issues of belonging and forgiveness. Elle's cousin is 16, same as Elle, when she is killed in a robbery of the fast-food restaurant where she works. Elle and her family must come to terms with the disturbing death and with the violence that lurks just under the surface in their interactions with each other. Elle relives the trauma as an adult when she is asked to write a letter arguing against the release of the killer. The book explores issues of belonging and forgiveness.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gayle

    Interesting, but since I knew Karen Marsh, I see the inaccuracies here, and it bothered me. The writer is hyper-focused on skin color and race and likens her beliefs to Karen, when the complete opposite is true, for instance. I think this was a way of the author working out her own serious familial concerns, using Karen’s death as a starting point. And as Karen’s friend, I didn’t appreciate it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marietta

    A very well-written book that toes the line between memory piece and investigation. I really appreciate authors who interrogate their perceptions of long-term memories, and especially those who seek outside sources for clarity. Johnson does this with depth and intelligence, while making no pretense of objectivity as she follows the ripple effect of an unthinkable family tragedy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anne Hatchaway

    I Fluently and confidently and enjoying the book. You are such a good Author! ... If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to [email protected] or [email protected]

  19. 5 out of 5

    Caroline David

    I really liked the writing and the story telling but I feel like it just didn't stick with me. I do remember Karen's story but the rest if kind of a blur because I couldn't get too invested in whether it's because I just thought it wasn't as memorable as the crime itself or what. I really liked the writing and the story telling but I feel like it just didn't stick with me. I do remember Karen's story but the rest if kind of a blur because I couldn't get too invested in whether it's because I just thought it wasn't as memorable as the crime itself or what.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joe Brignolo

    Very readable and raw and honest memoir!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Memoir centering on the murder of the author's teenage cousin and how it affects the whole family. Also goes into family dynamics and levels of forgiveness. Memoir centering on the murder of the author's teenage cousin and how it affects the whole family. Also goes into family dynamics and levels of forgiveness.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vilma

    A must read for anyone who has lived with family abuse and lost of family to crime.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    The Officer's Daughter is deeply sad and uncomfortable. Elle Johnson outlines how the murder of her cousin in 1981 shaped her life. Both girls were 16 at the time of the murder, and you can tell that the event still has a profound impact even now. Johnson also spends a lot of time talking about her complicated relationship with her father, who worked as a parole officer. There are really two different stories here - but both feature a theme of healing and forgiveness. Thank you Harper Books for th The Officer's Daughter is deeply sad and uncomfortable. Elle Johnson outlines how the murder of her cousin in 1981 shaped her life. Both girls were 16 at the time of the murder, and you can tell that the event still has a profound impact even now. Johnson also spends a lot of time talking about her complicated relationship with her father, who worked as a parole officer. There are really two different stories here - but both feature a theme of healing and forgiveness. Thank you Harper Books for the ARC.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Toni-Ann Johnson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is well written and a fast read. Full disclosure: I'm related to the author, so it was of particular interest to me. Some parts were so emotional I had to set the book down. In particular, learning that Karen's little brother Jeffrey did not understand why she was gone and that he kept waiting at the front door thinking she'd return, and also pointing to her room and asking for her was SO painful. Even more painful was learning that this was devastating to his (and Karen's) mother. Where I This is well written and a fast read. Full disclosure: I'm related to the author, so it was of particular interest to me. Some parts were so emotional I had to set the book down. In particular, learning that Karen's little brother Jeffrey did not understand why she was gone and that he kept waiting at the front door thinking she'd return, and also pointing to her room and asking for her was SO painful. Even more painful was learning that this was devastating to his (and Karen's) mother. Where I had to stop reading for a bit was when his mother took him to his sister's grave to show him where she was and to help him understand that she was not coming back. I was gutted. Karen's murder was the biggest tragedy in our family and it was very difficult to process. Even if I were not Elle's cousin, I would find value in this memoir. The excavation of the past and how it's processed throughout the story was compelling. I appreciated moving through the beats that led to discovery and change. It took courage to reveal some of the dark secrets that Elle turned into art. I'm proud of her accomplishment.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mariana

    Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy A lot of promise in this memoir but felt disoriented. I’m not keen on rating memoirs because it’s unfair to judge people’s literal life experiences. An important topic to explore. I can see this being a hit with other readers

  26. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    This is an honest personal memoir that some big topics, including murder, domestic violence, dynamics of LEOs and of course forgiveness.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carey Curran

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

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