On her birthday, Susanne Carson finds an unexpected package at the front door. Instead of a nicely wrapped birthday gift with a pretty bow, a tousled girl proclaims to be the daughter of David Carson, Susanne’s husband. With skepticism and shock, Susanne hears “My mama’s dead. He’s my daddy.” As a result, Susanne must find the truth and the plot begins to unfold. The Other Daughter by Miralee Ferrell is a thought-provoking read and begs the question: how would a person respond in Susanne’s shoes?
While Susanne stands with bewilderment and questions, David Carson drives down the tree-lined street toward home. Lately, David’s marriage has had an unspoken awkwardness, and consequently Susanne appears to be distant. With confidence and roses in hand, David believes the birthday date will course-correct the relationship with his wife. Instead, David finds a dark-haired girl, with strangely familiar eyes and a proclamation of “being his daughter.” The dinner engagement is cancelled; David must face a reality from the past that could destroy his marriage.
Susanne longs to believe that the complexity of having this disheveled girl in their home is simply a bad dream. After all, Susanne assumes that she was the only one for David, so this child must be mistaken. On shaken ground, Susanne confronts David and the flaws of their relationship and attempts to shield their children from the devastating news of David’s daughter.
Brianna, on the other hand, desires acceptance. After all, life for her has been a rollercoaster ride, ups and downs as a child with one parent. Brianna didn’t ask for her uncle to dump her at David’s doorstep and for her mother to die. Timid and with trepidation, Brianna’s tries to build a relationship with David, Susanna and their children.
Miralee Ferrell pens believable characters with real-life feeling. A descriptive plot provides intrigue and encourages the reader to hunt for the book’s ending. Christian values and principles of love, forgiveness and acceptance serve as the framework for the story. The dynamics of the Carson’s children to accept another in their family epitomizes the effervescent spirit to “love and embrace differences.”
The culmination of losing Brianna creates a pivotal scene in which Susanna has a change of heart. The reader longs to have Brianna become a permanent fixture of the Carson family, to secure this child from harm. Christian faith readers will feel affection for The Other Daughter. For me, the characters’ personae required additional depth, a real intensity to love or hate them, and less predictability.