Sisters Lulu and Merry share a terrible past. When Lulu was only a child, she let her drunken father into the family home and watched him kill her mother - and then turn on six-year-old Merry. Years later, clinging to the wreckage of their childhood, the sisters try to make sense of what happened. Bound by their love for each other but divided by private grief, forgiveness comes at a higher price than either could have imagined. The Murderer's Daughters is a gripping and moving story of the ramifications of one violent act and the endurance of family loyalty - even when it is stretched to the very limit.
Ford's strained debut concerns Henry Lee, a Chinese-American in Seattle who, in 1986, has just lost his wife to cancer. After Henry hears that the belongings of Japanese immigrants interned during WWII have been found in the basement of the Panama Hotel, the narrative shuttles between 1986 and the 1940s in a predictable story that chronicles the losses of old age and the bewilderment of youth. Henry recalls the difficulties of life in America during WWII, when he and his Japanese-American school friend, Keiko, wandered through wartime Seattle. Keiko and her family are later interned in a camp, and Henry, horrified by America's anti-Japanese hysteria, is further conflicted because of his Chinese father's anti-Japanese sentiment. Henry's adult life in 1986 is rather mechanically rendered, and Ford clumsily contrasts Henry's difficulty in communicating with his college-age son, Marty, with Henry's own alienation from his father, who was determined to Americanize him.