Seventeen-year-old Dani Solomon enjoys her life: babysitting, singing in an a cappella group, and hanging out with her best friend, Shelley. But Dani is tortured by disturbing thoughts of hurting the boy she babysits, as well as other people. She has to protect Alex, the child, and everyone else –-- from herself.
"The book's title is a bit misleading, but it shows the seriousness of Dani's problems. Dani could be any girl."
Dani tries to struggle against what is going on in her head while balancing a new boyfriend, friendship, chores at home and her job. Soon she realizes she will need help. Things get worse when those around her expect more from her. Her best friend comes out to her and expects Dani to keep that secret, which she does. In her head she hears herself yell inappropriate things, though she knows she is not homophobic. When her mother talks about the possibility of marriage to her longtime boyfriend, Dani can barely stop herself from yelling insults. When a boy named Gordon finally asks her out and they go for a walk, she envisions herself killing him and burying him.
But the worst continues to be when she babysits her beloved neighbor, Alex. She sees herself stabbing him and locks up the knives while she watches him to keep him safe. She wants to quit, but his mom won't let her. She tries to confide in others, but no one understands. Finally she tells his mom that she is having disturbing thoughts of killing Alex, and the police are brought in.
The rumors in town grow, though Dani is not arrested. A hate group sets up online threats against her, and the entire town thinks she is a child killer on the loose. Soon she is not safe even in her own house, though she has hurt no one. She runs away, and discovers who her true friends and supporters are.
The book's title is a bit misleading, but it shows the seriousness of Dani's problems. Dani could be any girl. She is realistic, but her mom and friend do not know how to help her. They are also a little selfish, which is real, too. Mental illness is hard to understand for those who are not suffering from it. THE BABYSITTER MURDERS is an interesting and page-turning read that is enjoyable as well as informational.
Reviewed by Amy Alessio on August 26, 2011