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The Good Children

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When they move to a new home in Oregon, the McNair family know they're where they belong. But when tragedy strikes the family, the children face the prospect of being separated by the state. Rather than being sent to different foster homes, the four children decide to lie. And it's a big lie. The sort of deceit that can hold a family together or tear it apart . . . When they move to a new home in Oregon, the McNair family know they're where they belong. But when tragedy strikes the family, the children face the prospect of being separated by the state. Rather than being sent to different foster homes, the four children decide to lie. And it's a big lie. The sort of deceit that can hold a family together or tear it apart . . .


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When they move to a new home in Oregon, the McNair family know they're where they belong. But when tragedy strikes the family, the children face the prospect of being separated by the state. Rather than being sent to different foster homes, the four children decide to lie. And it's a big lie. The sort of deceit that can hold a family together or tear it apart . . . When they move to a new home in Oregon, the McNair family know they're where they belong. But when tragedy strikes the family, the children face the prospect of being separated by the state. Rather than being sent to different foster homes, the four children decide to lie. And it's a big lie. The sort of deceit that can hold a family together or tear it apart . . .

30 review for The Good Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

    I can't believe that each story is better than the last but it is true. This one is an astonishing tale. Part of me says "no way" and yet, why not? It might be a huge stretch of the truth but the suspense factor makes it a compelling read and the ending is satisfying. That is a five star read for me. I listened to this book narrated by Carrington MacDuffie. I can't believe that each story is better than the last but it is true. This one is an astonishing tale. Part of me says "no way" and yet, why not? It might be a huge stretch of the truth but the suspense factor makes it a compelling read and the ending is satisfying. That is a five star read for me. I listened to this book narrated by Carrington MacDuffie.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Gamradt

    This book ended too soon, I wanted more! I wanted to know what happened to the children after they grew up. This was a book I didn't want to put down! This book ended too soon, I wanted more! I wanted to know what happened to the children after they grew up. This was a book I didn't want to put down!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vannessa Anderson

    With their parents dead and gone, their father killed on his job and their mother dead from what was believed to be a broken heart, the McNair children, Kevin, age 18, Amy age 17, Liz, age 14, and Brian, age 9, all underage when their mother died, raised themselves honoring the promise they made to their mother to never have a funeral or a repast after her death. When their mother died, the Children buried her in the backyard. Kevin and Amy now old enough to go off to college and with thoughts o With their parents dead and gone, their father killed on his job and their mother dead from what was believed to be a broken heart, the McNair children, Kevin, age 18, Amy age 17, Liz, age 14, and Brian, age 9, all underage when their mother died, raised themselves honoring the promise they made to their mother to never have a funeral or a repast after her death. When their mother died, the Children buried her in the backyard. Kevin and Amy now old enough to go off to college and with thoughts of living away from the family’s home, realize their predicament. They hold a family meeting to decide just how to do that without being arrested for not contacting law enforcement about their mother’s death. The four siblings overcame adversity with commonsense and sticking together. What was unfortunate was that they had no one to confide in. What helped them was their dad teaching them how to see the world from a philosophical viewpoint. The Good Children was one of my favorite Kate Wilhelm books. The characters development was among the best I’ve read. The story was believable and creditable. The flow of the story was exceptional and there wasn’t a lull in any point of the book and though The Good Children was a work of fiction, somehow it felt like the work of personal experience. The Good Children had the best ending I’ve ever read in a work of fiction and Carrington MacDuffie did an extraordinary job in interpreting the personalities and moods of the characters. The Good Children is a book that you will not want to put down!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    The four McNair children have spent most of their childhood moving around (father’s job). Ironically, just as they settle in rural Oregon, their father dies and soon after that, their mother does as well. Educated from the cradle to distrust the social services system, the children (eldest almost 16) decide to bury their mother and go it on their own. With the help of a young and sympathetic lawyer (who doesn’t know their secret) we follow them through the next eight years of their lives. Excell The four McNair children have spent most of their childhood moving around (father’s job). Ironically, just as they settle in rural Oregon, their father dies and soon after that, their mother does as well. Educated from the cradle to distrust the social services system, the children (eldest almost 16) decide to bury their mother and go it on their own. With the help of a young and sympathetic lawyer (who doesn’t know their secret) we follow them through the next eight years of their lives. Excellent in parts.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Hagen

    reasonably well for a few years, but then the children are getting older. Kevin and Amy both have ambitious college plans. They would like to sell the house and settle the two younger children, Liz and Brian, somewhere so they can go on with their lives. But Liz and Brian remain in the house. Then some terrifying things take place bringing them closer to the truth about their mother’s death. But will the truth set them free, or bind them together forever? Very good book. Carrington MacDuffie is reasonably well for a few years, but then the children are getting older. Kevin and Amy both have ambitious college plans. They would like to sell the house and settle the two younger children, Liz and Brian, somewhere so they can go on with their lives. But Liz and Brian remain in the house. Then some terrifying things take place bringing them closer to the truth about their mother’s death. But will the truth set them free, or bind them together forever? Very good book. Carrington MacDuffie is the consummate professional narrator and does this book proud.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Boudreau

    I loved this book! I listened to the audio book while driving, and literally would sit int he car when I got home to finish the chapters. The book really hooked you in - was written in a style that was believable for the age of the writer, kept your interest. It was believable because the story centered around siblings taking care of each other, and the deep dark secrets that siblings can keep with each other. Great read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joi

    This book was so good. I enjoyed it so much ... I didn't expect to. I listened to it on audio and at first the voice sounded so creepy but I eventually got used to it. I enjoyed this book immensely. I didn't fall in love with it, which is why it's only a 4 star but I do recommend it to others. This book was so good. I enjoyed it so much ... I didn't expect to. I listened to it on audio and at first the voice sounded so creepy but I eventually got used to it. I enjoyed this book immensely. I didn't fall in love with it, which is why it's only a 4 star but I do recommend it to others.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Peg

    This is my first Kate Wilhelm and one of her older ones, but several heart pumping times in this story. Maybe a little far fetched but that's what a "suspense novel" is all about, right? This is my first Kate Wilhelm and one of her older ones, but several heart pumping times in this story. Maybe a little far fetched but that's what a "suspense novel" is all about, right?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Complete waste of time reading this book. At the outset, it is barely interesting enough to keep me reading, and then about the last third of the book, it feels like you're reading a different book ... total derail. Unfortunately, by that point, there is no point in tossing the book away. Plotlines are too far-fetched; actions taken are unbelievable; and most unforgiving, the psychiatric treatment as presented feels more like something from the 1800s rather than modern times. Serious regrets her Complete waste of time reading this book. At the outset, it is barely interesting enough to keep me reading, and then about the last third of the book, it feels like you're reading a different book ... total derail. Unfortunately, by that point, there is no point in tossing the book away. Plotlines are too far-fetched; actions taken are unbelievable; and most unforgiving, the psychiatric treatment as presented feels more like something from the 1800s rather than modern times. Serious regrets here about reading this. And oh yeah, I experienced no sense of suspense and tension.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Hayden

    What a great read! A family that has moved place to place finally settles down and buys a house. Then an accident kills Dad. Mom is bereft. Then Mom is found face down under an apple tree when she was trying to pick the apples at the top. Four kids alone. Mom was raised in foster care and has filled their heads with stories. So they bury her in the back and commence to pretend that she is still there. How long can that continue? Can they ever truly bury her? Are they ever able to sell the proper What a great read! A family that has moved place to place finally settles down and buys a house. Then an accident kills Dad. Mom is bereft. Then Mom is found face down under an apple tree when she was trying to pick the apples at the top. Four kids alone. Mom was raised in foster care and has filled their heads with stories. So they bury her in the back and commence to pretend that she is still there. How long can that continue? Can they ever truly bury her? Are they ever able to sell the property? And what about the youngest son - Brian insists Mother never left.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Renny Barcelos

    Excellent novel. The suspense is slowly built, through Liz's narrative. As the children all come to age, one after one, we get to see how one decision impacts every single aspect of their lives--some of them are way more impacted than others. Through it all I really liked to witness bond straighten under pressure instead of weaken. Even if by the end some secrets remained just for part of them. Liz and Brian's closeness was beautiful to follow. Excellent novel. The suspense is slowly built, through Liz's narrative. As the children all come to age, one after one, we get to see how one decision impacts every single aspect of their lives--some of them are way more impacted than others. Through it all I really liked to witness bond straighten under pressure instead of weaken. Even if by the end some secrets remained just for part of them. Liz and Brian's closeness was beautiful to follow.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Wilson

    This is a very quick, easy read. It begins well - Wilhelm is very good at creating a setting that is subtly disorientating and ominous from the start. But about half-way through it felt as if she lost interest in her characters and story. It rather plodded on to a pretty conventional ending that I found unrealistic and dissatisfying.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Adreana

    The book it’s self was good. The characters were incredibly enthralling. It was a little more slow moving then I would like, but that also added a lot of detail. Not yet sure if I would read another book from this author.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lola

    Wow. Kate Wilhelm is a born storyteller. I am so not fond of ghost stories, which are usually dumb and dreadful, full of characters you'd just as soon see the ghosts devour. But this is a story about real people with real problems ... and ghosts. Most excellent. Wow. Kate Wilhelm is a born storyteller. I am so not fond of ghost stories, which are usually dumb and dreadful, full of characters you'd just as soon see the ghosts devour. But this is a story about real people with real problems ... and ghosts. Most excellent.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    One of her better novels. When a father dies and leaves his wife and kids well off, she makes them promise to not let them go into the system. So when she dies, they hide her body, and pretend she's still alive. But it seems to be tougher on one of the kids. One of her better novels. When a father dies and leaves his wife and kids well off, she makes them promise to not let them go into the system. So when she dies, they hide her body, and pretend she's still alive. But it seems to be tougher on one of the kids.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia

    I give this book 3.5 stars. The story line was interesting, the characters were well drawn, and it kept me engaged.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    I listened to the audio production of this because I couldn't find it in print in the library. Thoroughly enjoyed it, totally gripping. Highly recommend it. I listened to the audio production of this because I couldn't find it in print in the library. Thoroughly enjoyed it, totally gripping. Highly recommend it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    David

    I couldn’t put this down. Wilhelm’s prose is lucid and clear, and laden with just enough foreshadowing to let you know that disaster is around the bend. Highly enjoyable and quite recommended.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jimmacc

    I kept thinking “this is not my kinda book”, but I kept reading. Really nice job of pacing. Ending works, but leaves a lot unresolved. Reader was very good (audio version).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chandra

    This wasn't as suspenseful as I was expecting, but the style was refreshingly different. This wasn't as suspenseful as I was expecting, but the style was refreshingly different.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rosalind

    I listened to the audio version of this book. Very good! Kept me interested the entire time!

  22. 5 out of 5

    June E. Parris

    The author had me reading early in the morning and late at night. I could not put this book down. I love Liz.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Russell-Thompson

    could not finish, the narrator was awful.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mckinley

    Got more interesting towards the end.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Juushika

    After spending their whole live on the move, the McNair family has finally settled down in an Oregon cabin and life is good--until both parents die. Afraid of being split apart in foster care, the four McNair children try to hold their family together themselves, but they are haunted by the memory of their mother. The Good Children has an intriguing, if cliché, premise, and it's easy to consume, but the writing is unremarkable and the book is entirely immemorable. There's no harm in reading it b After spending their whole live on the move, the McNair family has finally settled down in an Oregon cabin and life is good--until both parents die. Afraid of being split apart in foster care, the four McNair children try to hold their family together themselves, but they are haunted by the memory of their mother. The Good Children has an intriguing, if cliché, premise, and it's easy to consume, but the writing is unremarkable and the book is entirely immemorable. There's no harm in reading it but don't go out of your way. Not recommended. The premise of a family of orphaned children opens the door to guilty-pleasure tropes: us against the world, the desert island paradise. The Good Children delves immediately into both, and the children's struggles to remain safely isolated and rebuild their family create an interesting narrative. They run into enough difficulties to keep the reader engaged, and there's enough sentimentality--at least at the beginning--to make the story seem meaningful. Wilhelm is not a gifted or artistic writer (in this book, at least), but she is experienced; her prose moves swiftly and the book is a quick, simple read. Unfortunately, while premise is interesting and the prose moves swiftly, neither is particularly good. Wilhelm never takes her premise to an extreme, and so it never becomes realistically difficult or, like other examples of similar premises (such as Flowers in the Attic), enjoyable enough to be a guilty pleasure. The characters become increasingly distant and unsympathetic, and the emotional appeal of the novel all but disappears. The bland prose convey the story well enough, but it's entirely unremarkable; the book reads so quickly that it feels insubstantial. The mother's lingering presence is an interesting twist, but it's never fully developed. All told, the premise is interesting and the story is readable, but The Good Children is unremarkable and forgettable. It's not bad for a weekend of mindless reading, but don't go out of your way to get it. There are more interesting and more worthwhile books out there.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Perry Whitford

    The four McNair children had grown up friendless and on the move, their father's job taking them from state to state and their mother's innate mistrust keeping them wary of outsiders. Then one day they finally settle down for good in an isolated country house in Oregon. But due to twin catastrophes they lose both parents one after the other and are suddenly left orphans. Their father died at work, their mother at home, and influenced by her aversion to state institutions after the example of her The four McNair children had grown up friendless and on the move, their father's job taking them from state to state and their mother's innate mistrust keeping them wary of outsiders. Then one day they finally settle down for good in an isolated country house in Oregon. But due to twin catastrophes they lose both parents one after the other and are suddenly left orphans. Their father died at work, their mother at home, and influenced by her aversion to state institutions after the example of her own unhappy upbringing, the children decide to hide her death from the outside world and stay together as a family, though the eldest, Kevin, is only fifteen. The children are initially bound even closer together by their secret, working as a team to uphold the illusion that their mother still lives, which helps each of them to cope with their loneliness and sense of lose. As they grow up however, the elder two start to plan for their own futures. The narrator, Liz, fourteen when their mother dies, becomes wary of their intentions, whilst the youngest, Brian, begins to show unhealthy signs of mental illness. The Good Children is, as you would imagine, a claustrophobic and faintly disturbing tale, expertly told through the eyes of a teenager forced to see the world for what it is early in life, with no choice but to view all outsiders - and eventually insiders - as potential enemies. Wilhelm stays true to her young narrator's voice throughout, never overstepping her untrained voice as a storyteller, never intruding with any authorial tricks to ratchet up the suspense, leading to a gripping and believable drama. Neither are the healthier aspects of the children's situation ignored either - the shared intimacies, the occasional joys, the simpler pains and pleasures of growing up. But the choice they have made is one which is bound to exact a toll. As Liz notes, "The dead shouldn't control the living. They should let go." But what if the living cannot let them go? Upsetting, uplifting, and quietly profound.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    Soo I think I just had a deja-read..I could have sworn I read this years ago as this plot was vaguely too familiar however it had to have been pre-Goodreads (ugh what was reading life without Goodreads) so I didn't record it but I KNOW I have read this before..anyways was entertained for a while and I found out that if I have any kind of appointment (hair, doctor, dentist) I can read a book in a day and that is so wonderful LOL..So this book was about a family of six with mom, dad and four child Soo I think I just had a deja-read..I could have sworn I read this years ago as this plot was vaguely too familiar however it had to have been pre-Goodreads (ugh what was reading life without Goodreads) so I didn't record it but I KNOW I have read this before..anyways was entertained for a while and I found out that if I have any kind of appointment (hair, doctor, dentist) I can read a book in a day and that is so wonderful LOL..So this book was about a family of six with mom, dad and four children living a happy, perfect family life when tragedy strikes and the parents die leaving four scared, defenseless children alone with only themselves (their mother instilled in them a healthy fear of authority and the government so reporting the deaths and possibly getting placed in foster care was totally out of the question) so the four children lie and hide and live without parents, but can this situation always remain so ideal? As the children grow up, new challenges arise and the suspense builds I felt the end didn't live up to all the promise and intrigue it starts and promises but I did feel it was a good book, hopefully I wont read it again but aside from me wishing the book changed viewpoints and we got to hear from the other kids not the daydreaming, listless third oldest child Liz as her teenage indecisiveness and lack of vision and purpose frustrated me at times so if only the book switched narratives and had a little more substance and plot towards the end I would have really enjoyed it, as is its not a bad book though...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    A family moves to a new house in a new state and before they have time to develop any relationships outside of the family, the father is killed at his job site. The mother of the family, was so dependent on her husband for her identity, that she never recovers from her husband's death, and soon the four children find themselves all alone. The mother dies, and the children bury her in the back yard and tell no one. Luckily the are able to go on living in the new house since their father left them A family moves to a new house in a new state and before they have time to develop any relationships outside of the family, the father is killed at his job site. The mother of the family, was so dependent on her husband for her identity, that she never recovers from her husband's death, and soon the four children find themselves all alone. The mother dies, and the children bury her in the back yard and tell no one. Luckily the are able to go on living in the new house since their father left them well provided for. They grow up protecting their family secrets, and as the youngest child begins to grow up, it becomes clear that something is not quite right about him. He believes that his mother's spirit is present and protecting him from something very bad... This is a pretty good story, and makes me want to try others by this author.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn Doyle

    I finished it, so it's already done a lot better than other books I didn't enjoy. I won't say it was bad—such an accusation needs to have a rational; a technical basis—but the style simply wasn't to my taste. It's a lethargic narrative that, I imagine, is very a unusual style for a 'horror story'. The premise sounded exciting, but the execution really wasn't. No excitement, no suspense, no quickened pace. I saw another reviewer state the book as short, but I haven't seen a bound copy. I listened I finished it, so it's already done a lot better than other books I didn't enjoy. I won't say it was bad—such an accusation needs to have a rational; a technical basis—but the style simply wasn't to my taste. It's a lethargic narrative that, I imagine, is very a unusual style for a 'horror story'. The premise sounded exciting, but the execution really wasn't. No excitement, no suspense, no quickened pace. I saw another reviewer state the book as short, but I haven't seen a bound copy. I listened to an audio version, which at over eight hours was plenty long enough for me, especially considering its lack of engagement. I won't be revisiting this author's work.

  30. 5 out of 5

    KellI Preston

    I really liked this book and the story. The oldest brother and sister really pissed me off because they grew up and left and then came back and assumed they knew what was best for younger siblings that they didn't even take the time to get to know. Liz was a complicated girl and in the end I got the feeling she was going to be like their mom, a homebody and devoted to family with no real direction in life other than that, but that was ok with me. At least she finally came up with a plan. She had I really liked this book and the story. The oldest brother and sister really pissed me off because they grew up and left and then came back and assumed they knew what was best for younger siblings that they didn't even take the time to get to know. Liz was a complicated girl and in the end I got the feeling she was going to be like their mom, a homebody and devoted to family with no real direction in life other than that, but that was ok with me. At least she finally came up with a plan. She had believable thought processes and I would have wanted to do the same as she did with Brian, although not sure I would have had the balls to try it.

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