The Officer's Daughter: A Memoir of Family and Forgiveness (Paperback)
“The Officer’s Daughter is a powerful dissertation on the legacy of violence; a telling journey to the place in the heart where forgiveness is found. Elle Johnson’s words are beautiful, poignant, and painful; and always deeply resonant with truth. This book has an echo that stays with you well after you have turned the last page.”—Michael Connelly, New York Times bestselling author
“A beautiful and emotional memoir of a family tragedy. . . . This searing story deserves a wide readership.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“When I was sixteen, my sixteen-year-old cousin, Karen, had her face blown off at pointblank range by a sawed-off shotgun . . .”
?In 1981, Elle Johnson and her cousin, Karen, were both daughters of Black law enforcement officers. Elle’s father was a highly protective, at times overbearing, parole officer; her uncle, Karen’s dad, was a homicide detective. Elle dreamed of being best friends with her popular, cool cousin, who understood her in a way no one else could.
Then Karen was killed in a robbery gone wrong. The NYPD and FBI launched a cross-country manhunt to find the killers, and the subsequent trials and media circus marked the end of Elle’s childhood innocence.
Thirty years later, Elle—living in Los Angeles and working as a television writer on scripted police dramas—received an unexpected request from Karen’s brother. Would Elle write a letter asking that Karen’s killer not be released on parole? Suddenly, Elle realized she didn’t know if she would or could—until she’d faced some hard truths of her own past: of a family who didn’t speak of the murder and its devastating effect, of the secrets they buried, of a complicated father she never truly understood.
The Officer’s Daughter is a piercing memoir that explores what parents can and cannot do to protect their children, the reverberations of violence on survivors’ lives, and the overwhelming power of forgiveness, even in the face of unspeakable pain.
Raised in Hollis, Queens and educated at Harvard, Elle got her first writing job on HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS. Her credits include everything from THE FOSTERS and FINDING CARTER to LAW & ORDER and THE GLADES. She is currently co-showrunning MADAM CJ WALKER at Netflix and has done everything from working in Cairo after graduation to riding a bike across country for a cause.
"The Officer’s Daughter, by Elle Johnson, is a masterpiece. More than that, it's the perfect book for our troubled time. Johnson has written the deepest, most emotionally resonant understanding of forgiveness and justice I have ever read." — Darin Strauss, bestselling author of Half a Life
"Immensely moving." — New York Times
"A powerful portrait of one family's 'grief that will never end'." — People
“This fierce, probing memoir beautifully explores the powerful aftershocks of staggering loss. How does a family go on, after senseless, random violence claims one of their own? Buried secrets fester until someone is brave enough to go digging. Elle Johnson has written a gift of a book — one that instructs and inspires, even as it breaks your heart.” — Dani Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of Inheritance
"The Officer’s Daughter is a powerful dissertation on the legacy of violence; a telling journey to the place in the heart where forgiveness is found. Elle Johnson’s words are beautiful, poignant and painful; and always deeply resonant with truth. This book has an echo that stays with you well after you have turned the last page." — New York Times bestselling author, Michael Connelly
"Screen writer Johnson debuts with a beautiful and emotional memoir of a family tragedy...This searing story deserves a wide readership." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Powerful reflections on crime, murder, punishment, and redemption...A remarkable exploration of forgiveness by a veteran storyteller." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)