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The Babysitter Murders Hardcover – July 26, 2011
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"Teens who feel misunderstood will relate to Dani’s struggles to maintain her reputation in a society that tends to view them with suspicion."
--KIRKUS REVIEWS, June 15, 2011
* “Young's writing style is assured, and the tension stays high throughout, as local reaction escalates, complete with tabloid headlines, a cesspool of Internet commentary, and the threat of vigilantism. It's a realistic and disturbing look at our cultural response to mental illness.”--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Janet Ruth Young is the author of the teen novels My Beautiful Failure, Things I Shouldn’t Think (previously published as The Babysitter Murders), and The Opposite of Music. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Visit her at JanetRuthYoung.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dani's beginning to think she might be dangerous, and the rest of the town heartily agrees. What started as the odd scary thought quickly snowballs into panic. Dani doesn't think she's going to hurt anyone; she certainly doesn't want to hurt anyone. But as the villagers grab their metaphorical torches and pitchforks, it doesn't look like that's going to matter much. How far will fear drive the people of Hawthorne, Massachusetts to protect their children?
I so badly wanted to give The Babysitter Murders four, four and a half stars. I so badly wanted to love this book. But here's the thing: it took me an age to get through it. Why? Because, and there is no way to get around saying this, but the first fifty to seventy pages suck.
I don't mean that the beginning is a little slow; I mean that the first part of the six that make up the book just sucks. The second part isn't so great either. Dani is obnoxious and too perfect. The writing seems cut from cardboard. Alex's mother, nicknamed Mrs. Alex, is irritating. Malcolm, a cop's son, occasional point-of-view character, and kid at Dani's school is irritating and equally cardboard. Gordy, crush, romantic subplot, and singer in the a capella group, is completely flat, though he's nothing compared to the second random romantic-subplot guy, also a singer, Nathan, whose purpose in the whole thing I never quite discerned. Was the love triangle supposed to be an important thing? If so, why? The premise is that Dani is believed to be a completely bonkers! It took me weeks to get through the first fifty pages, to make myself read without feeling like braining myself with my own laptop because Dani was being so pitifully stupid.
And then I read the last two hundred fifty pages in two days.
The Babysitter Murders gets better. It gets so much better. Those first seventy pages of total suck set up such a platform for the rest of the book to build off on! All those characters that you can't keep straight for the first fifty pages come into play in at least a mildly interesting way at some point in the semi-distant future!
Dani's problem does, eventually, become a real problem. Though I don't agree with how her best friend reacts to the first mention of Dani's oh-em-gee-I-keep-thinking-I'm-going-to-kill-someone thing, after a while the issue does become something very strange--well, after Dani and BFF Shelley start flippin' out and thinking she's crazy, but still. Dani even stops flipping out after a while, which is to say as soon as there are things she should be flipping out over, like angry villagers wanting to burn her at stake! (I'm kidding about the burning at stake. They'd rather shoot her.) Beth, Dani's mother, steps in and adds to the story. Malcolm stops being pathetically irritating and starts being fascinatingly twisted. Gordy becomes more three-dimensional, as well as the other dude, Nathan. Well maybe not Nathan. I'm still not entirely clear why he ended up in the book at all. But Gordy gets that third dimension! He's just a little thin!
The Babysitter Murders is an acquired taste. By which I mean to say that it takes ages to get into. The characters get a little more interesting, the reader gets a little more used to them. Eventually it makes sense. Or if it doesn't, well, you've gotten through the crap part anyway. Eventually it gets less annoying that the narrative jumps perspective like an ADD squirrel jumping between bins in the bulk section of Whole Foods. Which isn't to say the author ever stops jumping perspective. Just, it isn't quite so annoying after the fifth or sixth narrator. At least it's in third person, so you can actually tell whose perspective it's in?
So a five-star premise, a four-star execution, and an oh-god-that-was-awful beginning-that averages to 3.5 stars, yes? Math nerds? Sure. Basically, though, read it. The beginning sucks. You will get through it. If you don't like it by page 150, sure, you can set it down. But by that point you're nearly halfway through the book anyway, and who could set down a book that late in the game? See what I did there? Mhm. Now go read. Read it fast. No, really, read quickly, maybe you can glaze over the initial suck!
Thoughts about those she cares about most have been invading her mind. Bad, usually violent thoughts. She thinks about stabbing Alex the little boy she babysits with a giant knife from his kitchen while he sleeps.
Dani doesn't want to do it. She loves Alex. Enjoys babysitting him. Feels bad for him because of his absent mother. But she thinks about it.
When Dani's secret gets out, the moniker Dani Death is bestowed upon her even though she's never committed any crime, never harmed anyone. No matter, though, the whole town, the whole area, is soon out to get Dani Death.
An enjoyable YA psychological tale. you get to see what's going on inside Dani's mind . . . and what happens to and around her once she decides to let some of it out (or even just share it). It's also also a fantastic portrayal of the town's psyche - of the pack mentality, really - and how they're all so ready to latch on to Dani as Dani Death even when no crime has been committed.
With tabloid headlines, news reports, internet communications and other characters mixed in, The Babysitter Murders shows just how people will react to mental illness-whether they know it's that or not.
It's an excellent depiction of how people are still ready to dig out the pitchforks and storm a castle. Or think/post that they are.
And what it means for the person on the receiving end of those comments, posts, taunts, headlines, etc.
The Babysitter Murders is written in present tense. For me it felt more like anarration of a story than a story--I was always one step away from being full engrossed in it. Present tense storytelling doesn't really seem to work for me; it doesn't allow me to connect with the characters. But for other readers, it really might.
This book took me on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, at first I was not convinced that I would enjoy this book, but was drawn to it, simply because it deals with a psychological problem. Dani deals with a type of OCD that consists strictly of delisional thoughts that consume her mind, which is a face of OCD i've never read anything about, which drew me too this.
I felt the book to drag on a bit in the beginning and was a bit slow, but it was worth the wait. Once I got like 150 pages into the story it became excited, and page-turning, and I couldn't wait to find out what the outcome of Dani's devastating situation would be. If you like books that deal with issues of Psychology in the YA genre then this is def. a book that you would enjoy!