Pages: 304 (hardcover)
To Be Published: July 26th by Atheneum
Recommended for: someone looking for a different, intriguing contemporary read
*I received this book from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review, and this is no way affected my review, and yada yada*
Dani Solomon loves her after-school job babysitting Alex, a sweet if spoiled little boy whose mother is often preoccupied with work. Yet slowly but surely, Dani comes to dread babysitting for Alex, because she just can't shake the feeling that she's going to kill him.
Dani is appalled by her own horrible thoughts of killing Alex and knows she would never do such a thing, yet the disturbing mental images and thoughts continue. As the repetitive and horrifying thoughts begin to interfere with other aspects of Dani's life, including her friendship with her BFF Shelley, Dani makes the mistake of turning to Alex's mother for help. When she confesses her thoughts about killing Alex, his mother calls the cops on Dani-- and begins a community-wide "witch-hunt" against Dani, as parents and former classmates alike turn against her, sickened and convinced that she is a serial killer waiting to happen. Meanwhile Dani struggles to deal with the war which is being waged in her own mind-- the crushing effects of her specific brand of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But when an extremist group targeting community violence-- who don't mind resorting to violence themselves-- set their sights on Dani, her very life may be at stake.
OCD is a funny little thing. Almost 1% of the population have some noticeable form of it, and it manifests in so many different ways. Yet the phrase OCD, for many, brings to mind someone obsessively scrubbing their doorknobs clean of germs and vacuuming six times a day. I'm not one to get into too much personal information, but I have quite a few OCD behaviors myself, so I was very interested to read this book about a girl whose OCD gets her into a whole world of trouble on the wrong side of citizens' arrest.
Our protagonist Dani is really a sweet girl, even despite her gory thoughts, and her struggles against her own mind and what she feared she might do were heart-felt and painful. There were plenty of times when I wanted to scream at her for speaking about her impulses with other people. (Yes, sharing is good, dear Dani, but sharing our urges to kill people's children with them is something that we should probably avoid.) I liked the subplot with Dani's friend Shelley and it was nice to read about a YA heroine who was well-supported by her family-- or her mom, anyway. Beth Solomon rocked. I can only hope that, should I be suddenly targeted by the local newspaper and a crazy, extremist citizens' militia group as a possible child killer, my own mom would be there to pull me out of the fray. This book is a quick read, and actually held my attention despite the fact that my copy was an e-book and I typically find it difficult to get into e-books. In short, The Babysitter Murders is a very good, thought-provoking book.
Overall Rating: 4/5