Kaira Rouda | The Favorite Daughter

favorite daughter kaira rouda

The Book: 

The Favorite Daughter, by Kaira Rouda, 2019

The Characters: 

Jane and David Harris, their daughters Mary (who died before the book began) and Betsy

The Plot (from the publisher):

Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly 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 antidepressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.

It’s time for Jane to reclaim 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 reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed 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?

Click here for book spoilers
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Favorite Daughter, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist:

We knew all along that Mary was adopted and Betsy was Jane’s biological child, but when Jane threatens Mary’s birth mother Elizabeth to get her to stay away from her family, we find out that David was Mary’s biological father. He had cheated on Jane right after they got married and then convinced her to adopt the child of his affair. He told her that Elizabeth was just an employee of his parents. 

David was planning to leave Jane for his assistant. When Jane found out, she exposed the assistant’s questionable past and threatened her to get her to leave the country. 

Jane is insane. She had followed her daughters to the park the night Mary died. She killed Mary and later the dog, and was trying to frame Betsy. Her Lyft driver Sam was in the police academy and was the nephew of the detective investigating Mary’s murder; he kept his uncle informed and was instrumental in framing Jane. (Do people have dedicated Lyft drivers? Is that a rich person thing, or was he posing as a Lyft driver to gather info? Would a trainee go undercover?)

The Ending:

Jane goes to jail.

The Review: 

A very entertaining read. Jane is the sort of character that you love to hate. She is absolutely despicable to everyone around her and so narcissistic that she doesn’t realize that she is harming anyone. The reader is continuously galled by her delusion and gets to watch her demise. 

Jane also has an obsession with the most mundane ways to die, such as tripping and falling on upright knives in the dishwasher. Since the book is written as Jane speaking to the reader, it is peppered with these interesting tidbits. 

favorite daughter kaira rouda
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