perfect daughter dj palmer
Book Review / DJ Palmer / Reviews with Spoilers

D.J. Palmer | The Perfect Daughter

perfect daughter dj palmer

The Book: 

The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer, 2021

The Characters: 

Penny and her alters Eve, Ruby, and Chloe
Her mother Grace

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buy it on | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Grace never dreamt she’d visit her teenaged daughter Penny in the locked ward of a decaying state psychiatric hospital, charged with the murder of a stranger. There was not much question of her daughter’s guilt. Police had her fingerprints on the murder weapon and the victim’s blood on her body and clothes. But they didn’t have a motive.

Grace blames herself, because that’s what mothers do—they look at their choices and wonder, what if? But hindsight offers little more than the chance for regret.

None of this was conceivable the day Penny came into her life. Then, it seemed like a miracle. Penny was found abandoned, with a mysterious past, and it felt like fate brought Penny to her, and her husband Arthur. But as she grew, Penny’s actions grew more disturbing, and different “personalities” emerged.

Arthur and Grace took Penny to different psychiatrists, many of whom believed she was putting on a show to help manage her trauma. But Grace didn’t buy it. The personas were too real, too consistent. It had to be a severe multiple personality disorder. One determined psychiatrist, Dr. Mitch McHugh, helped discover someone new inside Penny—a young girl named Abigail. Is this the nameless girl who was abandoned in the park years ago? Mitch thinks Abigail is the key to Penny’s past and to the murder. But as Grace and Mitch dig deeper, they uncover dark and shocking secrets that put all their lives in grave danger.

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

The Twist:

Penny’s lawyer was the killer. He was Rachel’s abusive boyfriend while Penny still lived with her, and all of Penny’s repressed memories were pointing to her early childhood when he mom’s boyfriend would hold her head in buckets of ammonia and things. Toddler Penny had tried to set fire to the house to help her mom escape, but she didn’t. Rachel gave Penny up to Grace in order to give her a better life. 

The lawyer insinuated himself into Grace’s life as a long con to set Penny up for Rachel’s murder. They figured it out based on his tattoo and he went crazy in the courtroom and was arrested.

The Ending:

Penny was acquitted and went back to living with her family.

The Review: 

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for my ALC and St. Martin’s Press for my physical copy! I love it when I have options as to how to read a book. I can listen to audiobooks while taking care of chores in my daily life, but also was able to follow along in the physical book, which really helped in this case to keep all of the characters straight.

Certain aspects of this book worked especially well on audio. As Penny switched between alters, the narrator did an amazing job of changing voices and inflections and making it clear who was speaking. I’m impressed with Palmer’s ability to describe the changes without being able to show them visually.

I loved the setting of this book, and really enjoyed the psychological thriller aspects that kept me guessing until the end. My favorite character was Penny’s doctor. He was determined to help her, both personally and in regards to her case. I loved how Penny’s family rallied around her to help prove her innocence.

The beginning of this book was a little slow with a lot of character development, and I feel like all the action happened in the last 20%. I liked the ending and certainly didn’t guess the twist, but I wish we got more of the court case. I can’t really give my thoughts on the court case without giving anything away, so if you’ve read it click below for my spoiler thoughts!

Click here for spoiler thoughts
The perpetrator kind of came out of left field. We had very limited interaction with him leading up to the court case, and if there was anything connecting him to Rachel prior to that I missed it. Drop a comment below if you noticed something I didn’t! I like that I was surprised, but prefer there to be clever hints along the way leading up to it.

One of my favorite things about the Bookstagram community is learning about social issues that I might not come across in my daily life. A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend on there about how many thrillers use mental illness as a plot point in a way that perpetuates harmful mental health stereotypes. To be honest, I never paid much attention to it before our conversation. I realize now that casting a girl with DID as the potential murderer and basing a whole court case around whether she was lying really just adds confusion to an already misunderstood illness, and leads the public to believe that people with DID are inherently dangerous. I’m no expert on mental health and certainly have a lot to learn myself, but thank you so much to all of you who help start these conversations!

perfect daughter dj palmer

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