Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Babysitter Murders by Janet Ruth Young

By all accounts, Dani is a pretty normal high school student. She gets good grades, sings in the chorus, and is a star tennis player. She also does a lot of babysitting. But lately Dani's been having some strange thoughts. She wonders what it would be like to reach out and grab a teacher in a very personal spot. After her best friend confides in her, she feels like she might scream gay slurs at the top of her lungs. And most troubling of all, she can't stop thinking about harming the little boy that she babysits for. She's worried that one day she'll act on these thoughts and she doesn't know what to do. But when she finally starts asking for help...that's when things get dangerous.

There's a nice ambiguity in the title. Does it refer to someone who is murdering babysitters? Or does it refer to a babysitter who murders? (I also love the picture on the cover). I found the first part of the book to be a touch slow (Dani has a lot of bad thoughts and reactions to these bad thoughts), but once she told the boy's mother about what she saw, I couldn't put it down. It was sickening to watch how practically the entire community turned against Dani, to see how her name and identity were leaked through online articles and blogs. They called her a 'potential killer' and advocated for violence against her. The subject matter may put some people off reading the book, but I found it to be a very interesting look at the power of public opinion, mass hysteria, and mental health.

Check out Janet Ruth Young's website.

I received a review copy through the Simon and Schuster Galley Grab program.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
The Opposite of Music by Janet Ruth Young
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Unthinkable by Shirley Duke

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