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Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls Hardcover – April 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; 1 edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547760620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547760629
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #857,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-Nora Cunningham's world turns upside down when two of her teenage girlfriends are killed. Buddy Novak, the ex-boyfriend of one of the girls, is the prime suspect, and Nora and the rest of the town believe that he is guilty. As she learns more, however, she starts to doubt that he was involved. Nora also faces her own tribulations in her small town of Elmgrove, Maryland. She once was so sure of her life, but now she questions who she is and what she wants. Hahn's novel (Clarion, 2012), set in 1955, is a combination of a mystery and a coming-of-age story and is based on an actual crime that the author lived through as a teenager. It is told through alternating points of view between Nora and the individual responsible for the crimes. The narration immediately sets the mood with Nick Podehl's dark, hushed tones that sound manic and even scary at times. A definite purchase for those looking to add quality fiction to their audiobook collections.-Katie Llera, Bound Brook High School, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

A Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2012
 
* "An engrossing exploration of how a murder affects a community."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 
"This is a thinking-teen's mystery."—Bulletin
 
"Hahn emphasizes the universality of growing up and facing death."—Horn Book
 
* "This wrenching novel offers an aggregate portrait of the effects of loss and grief, including both the strengthening and dissolution of relationships."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
"This creepy tale slowly and craftily builds tension . . . It has the added feature of offering a unique snapshot of life in the 1950's."—School Library Journal
 
"The veracity of this tragedy raises the stakes for readers who are already fans of Hahn's supernatural fiction, and the coming-of-age component of Nora's shattered naïveté is all the more searing."—Bulletin

More About the Author

Mary Downing Hahn, a former children's librarian, is the award-winning author of many popular ghost stories, including Deep and Dark and Dangerous and The Old Willis Place. An avid reader, traveler, and all-around arts lover, Ms. Hahn lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her two cats, Oscar and Rufus.

Customer Reviews

Suffice it to say, I enjoyed reading this book.
sanoe.net
Except for when it comes to who the killer is - Nora has doubts that the ex-boyfriend, Buddy, killed the girls even though the entire town believes it was him.
Brenna
I hope she's found peace and closure, and I wish her the best, however, I just did not find the novel that noteworthy.
E. M. Bristol

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By April VINE VOICE on July 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Han' is a well-written historical fiction YA novel about the murder of two girls which shakes a small town in the 1950s. Nora, the main character, is at the heart of Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls'. Nora is friends with the victims, Cheryl and Bobbi-Jo and hangs out with them the night before their murders. The deaths of the two girls come as a shock to Nora. Much of Elmgrove, the Baltimore suburb in which this book is set, believes Cheryl's ex, a ne'er do well named Buddy was the killer, but Nora has her doubts, which the book explores.

The structure of Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls' is quite interesting. The book is divided into alternate point of view chapters with letters as well as diary entries. Further, we also get the point of view of the killer which is incredibly creepy. The narrative structure lends itself quite well to exploring themes of tragedy and growing up.

Tragedy changes Elmgrove. The residents' sense of safety is shaken. Those close to it experience deep hurt and pain, as is typical to the grieving process. Yet, we also get to see Nora's reactions to those who sensationalize the tragedy, those who are kind to her because they want the lurid details. Mary Downing Hahn' does a fair job portraying the very real emotions and different faces that tragedy can wear.

Perhaps the best part of Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls' is the dynamism of Nora as a character. She starts out as quite an immature young girl, with her biggest worry being if the popular jock notices her or not. Then we see Nora deeply questioning different aspects of her life as an outcome of the murders. Nora does question her faith as well, but in a respectful manner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brenna on August 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Confession: I've had a longtime obsession with crime stories. I blame my family (and too much old A&E TV shows as a child, and maybe a few too many years of CSI more recently) for this. I'm fascinated by it. I'm horrified and disturbed at times. But there's nothing scarier than some of these real life stories.

Needless to say, Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls caught my eye for exactly this reason. And I think it was also because of this that led to my unfortunate disappointment with the book as a whole. It really wasn't the crime story I was hoping for, not at all.

Reasons to Read:

1.A coming of age story:

I might have liked this book more if I had had a better idea that I was supposed to expect a coming of age story rather than a crime story. And it's a fascinating look at one turn of events that tragically impacted a large number of people. But our narrator, Nora, finds this stage of her life to be almost completely defined by this murder - it really does end up triggering a number of life changing decisions and realizations for her.

2.The setting: 1950s small town:

I absolutely loved the vintage feel of the book - from the pop culture, the little bits of fashion talked about, the ideas, the struggles, the societal changes, etc. It was fascinating for me to read about and a time period that YA doesn't typically feature.
The real problem with this book for me though was that it didn't feel like fiction. Instead, it felt more like a memoir which makes sense if you read the Acknowledgements of the book, where Mary talks about how this book was inspired by an event which actually happened to her as a teenager. And she lays out the truth of what happened - which is actually VERY, extremely close to what happens in the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ali on July 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book! It wasn't as scary as I'd expected, but still was a great story. I would definitely recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Schoonover VINE VOICE on May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With its setting in the 1950's and the main narrator, teen-aged Nora's anxiety over things such as Purgatory, petting and reading novels like PEYTON PLACE it may be difficult for today's typical teens to fully identify with MISTER DEATH'S BLUE-EYED GIRLS. However older readers and thoughtful young adults may well be charmed by the faithful descriptions of teenage culture in that decade this book contains. Others may be morbidly fascinated by the long lasting effects the senseless unsolved murders of two high school girls had on many residents of a suburban Maryland community. There is also some real suspense involved as even though "Mister Death" himself remains somewhat of an enigma the book slowly unfolds enough information to send chills down the reader's spine.

The book is told mostly in first person by Nora, a friend of the two dead girls and an acquaintance of the leading suspect. We also hear at times from the voices of Buddy who most people believe is the unarrested murderer and even from the real perpetrator and his accomplice brother. Diary entries, letters and a dream are also employed in telling the tale. The main events of the book occur the summer of 1956 as the murders took place in June of that year and the author's genuine portrayal of East Coast suburban Catholic life in that time is the strongest part of the novel.

In the afterwards by author Mary Downing Hahn the reader learns the story is quite closely based on true events that happened in her home town and that she knew the two victims and the leading suspect. Hahn has altered a few details for the fictionilization moving the year of the killings from 1955 to 1956 and changing the locale slightly from the D.C. area to outside of Baltimore.
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