I simply couldn't put it down—even when I knew I should've been sleeping. 

By Priyanka Aribindi
Updated September 15, 2017
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The Good Daughter, by Karin Slaughter
Slaughter’s dark, character-driven novel follows two sisters, Sam and Charlie, who were victims of a botched home invasion that left their mother dead and Sam shot. Twenty-eight years later, the sisters—both working as lawyers—don’t speak to each other. But after Charlie witnesses a school shooting, her own wounds are reopened, and only her estranged sister can help. To buy: $19; amazon.com.
| Credit: amazon.com

There are few experiences as completely and utterly engrossing as reading a good book. As a kid, I would stay up late into the night (way past my bedtime) burning through the pages of series like Harry Potter and Nancy Drew. They elicited feelings of suspense, enthrallment, and an absolute need to know what was going to happen next.

In the years since, I’ve certainly read books that were interesting and exciting, but none that got me reading the way I had as kid. Instead, my late nights were spent bingeing on Netflix, needing to know what was happening on shows like How to Get Away With Murder and Law & Order.

Until I picked up Karin Slaughter’s latest thriller, The Good Daughter ($19, amazon.com). It was an airport impulse buy I chose after seeing the title on a Real Simple book roundup, specifically because of the plot.

The book centers on Sam and Charlie, two sisters who, as young adults, were victims of a break-in that left their mother dead and one of them with a bullet in her head. Years later, the pair both have successful careers as lawyers (like their father, whose work was the reason they were targeted in the first place), but they are estranged. Charlie remained in the small Georgia town where they grew up, and Sam moved north to persue a career at a fancy New York City firm. When a school shooting in their hometown reunites the two, the sisters begin to piece together the mystery behind the incident that tore their family apart.

The plot is certainly not for everyone. It's admittedly very dark—it addresses a variety of traumatic situations (assault, rape, the school shooting, and more)—and features constant twists and turns. But it stood out to me, particularly because of the characters. Trauma aside, Sam and Charlie are realistic and relatable. I could see the story playing out in my head as I read, and I found myself empathizing with them.

The blend of legal, criminal, and family drama reminded me so much of the shows that keep me binge-watching. And the act of reading the book itself, strange as it may seem for such a dark novel, reminded me of being a kid again, reading a book I just had to finish, regardless of how late it got.