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“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.