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Reviewed by:
  • The Babysitter Murders
  • Karen Coats
Young, Janet Ruth. The Babysitter Murders. Atheneum, 2011. 321p Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4169-5944-1 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4424-2382-4 $9.99 R Gr. 8–12.

Seventeen-year-old Dani seems to have everything together until weird, unwanted, and inappropriate thoughts start plaguing her. She thinks of grabbing her teacher’s [End Page 120] testicles, calling her mother and her best friend (who has recently come out to her) rude and degrading names, and, worst of all, killing the little boy she babysits. She decides she has to stop babysitting Alex for his own safety; when she tells his mother why, Alex’s mother calls the police, and the small town, the internet, and the press are soon abuzz with the irresistible gossip regarding a potentially murderous babysitter. Dani finally manages to get counseling for what her therapist explains is OCD; meanwhile, though, she’s become the target of a group of vigilantes whose ostensible goal is to protect children from predators, but who have themselves resorted to tactics well outside the law. Short chapters from various characters’ perspectives intermingle with excerpts from blogs and news stories to create the feeling of a true-crime TV documentary; the present-tense narration adds to this quality as it walks readers through the minute-by-minute actions and thought processes of the characters. The result is a highly accessible as well as a dramatic account, readable also for younger audiences prepared for the occasional brutality and profanity of Dani’s uncontrollable thoughts. Fortunately for Dani, she has a few steadfast supporters who can see the disorder for what it is; however, the narrator is unstinting in her depiction of the people who don’t understand the difference between mental and moral disorders and who are dangerous as a result. Readers interested in understanding the facts of OCD through an unfortunately credible narrative of sensationalism run amok will find this intriguing.



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pp. 120-121
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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