In How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie, we are led by Grace Bernard through an epic revenge mission against her fashion tycoon father who left her and her mother to live in comparative depravation while he cosied up with his ‘real family’ in extravagance and luxury. This part of the story is as old as time itself – children abandoned by fathers. But Grace takes the unusual approach of going about dispensing with his clan in increasingly creative and amusing ways. Some are more realistic and developmentally relevant than others, but what makes them all interesting is the way Grace custom-tailors each method to the victim.
Not to make light of crime and murder or anything, but if you are into books and fiction then, well, that’s just the way it goes. And it’s a woman doing it, so it’s nice to not have the usual disturbing sexually motivated angle we get with male murderers.
What gives this book its flavour is not all the murder, however. That’s obviously not very original nowadays. Grace is the star of the show and gives us that cynical, snobbish view of the world of someone who hates and derides everything and everyone they come across. Again, not super original. But Grace is no ordinary Ms Wit; she is also a psychopath, probably, so her observations and commentary are a notch above the cliché biting heroines’ we have come to love to hate.
The structure of the story is decent, with the alternating between timelines going smoothly, and tone is consistent throughout. Issues like the patriarchy, misogyny, wealth distribution etc are raised but honestly, this is a light read so for me any ‘messages’ the book was trying to impart are pretty obvious and the point of the story really is just escapism and a few hours of laughter and, at times, a raised eyebrow at yourself for agreeing with a psychopath a little bit too often in the course of 350 pages.
I would definitely recommend this if you are looking for a light, fun read. If anything, at least you can amuse yourself (and probably just yourself) when someone comes over and spots the book and you say: ‘Don’t worry – it’s not a manual’.