When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure it out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy.

Ellen opens the novel with this startling first sentence, immediately probing us to question why it is that she so wants to kill her father. She continues her introductory narrative with an explanation of the many ways she's imagined his murder. We soon learn that Ellen's father is sexually and psychologically abusive, a violent man who loves his alcohol and nothing else. Ellen knows that without him, not only will he be free of his torment, but he will be generally better off. And she will only feel this freedom and relief when he is no longer alive to haunt and hurt her. Ellen's murder method of choice is letting go a poisonous spider in her father's bed while he sleeps, after which she will pretend to be shocked and sad at his death when the undertaker comes to collect his body. However, Ellen does not have to kill her father; he drinks himself to death shortly after she has been removed from his custody.