Annalise Hulse's Reviews > The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
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A teenage girl is held captive and brutally tortured by neighborhood children. Based on a true story, this shocking novel reveals the depravity of which we are all capable.



This is a truly horrific book. Not because the writing is terrible. Far from it. In fact, its partly because of the author's ability to paint such an evocative image of the horror that he witnesses that the book is so difficult to read. And what makes it even worse is that this story is based on actual events.
The beginning of the book, told from the now adult perspective of the central character Davey, lulls you into a false sense of security. It tells the tale of a group of adolescent boys growing up in late 1950's small town America - fishing in the brook, sneaking illicit beers and dreaming of girls. In fact, it reminded me of Stephen King's "The Body" a bit. But events take a very sinister turn when two sisters, the orphaned distant relatives of the three brothers who live next door to Davey, come to stay. As Ruth Chandler, the mother of the boys and distant aunt of the sisters, descends into a spiral of depression and alcohol, she vents her frustations at life on the elder of the two sisters, Meg. What starts as a few beatings soon descends into the most horrific acts of imprisonment and torture that I've ever read. And Ruth, previously viewed as "one of the guys" by her sons and their friends (Davey included) because of her easy-going attitude and willingness to sneak them beers and candy, draws the impressionable boys into her twisted world, convincing them that her brutality is in some way acceptable and instructive.
Adult Davey reminisces on these events some 30 years later and examines the reasons why, at the time, he witnessed the awful abuse that Meg was suffering and yet did nothing to help until it was too late.
Jack Ketchum does a great job of differentiating between the POV of 12 year old Davey and adult David, his whole life marred by the events that he witnessed that summer. This book totally gripped me, though at times I wished it would let me go, because to be reminded that this stuff can actually happen in real life was not the most pleasant experience. Made me want to hug my son. A lot.

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Reading Progress

August 12, 2012 – Started Reading
August 12, 2012 – Shelved
August 14, 2012 – Finished Reading

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