Monday, October 21, 2013

The Girl Next Door Jack Ketchum Book Review

The girl next door Jack Ketchum

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 story is based on the Sylvia Likens case in Indiana in 1965, where Sylvia Marie Likens only 16 was tortured to death; after multiple beatings, burnings, and scalding baths, she died of a brain hemorrhage, shock, and malnutrition. Her little sister 15 year old Jenny who was disabled and wore calipers was also the target of abuse.
They had been put into the care of Gertrude Baniszeski after her mother Betty was jailed for shoplifting, their father couldn't manage . Please read the true case HERE

The Girl next door is a fictional story but based on this horrific event which has been made into the film version of the same name.

Stephen King, an outspoken fan of the novel, praised the film. "Terrific performances and really extraordinary cinematography," he wrote. "The first authentically shocking American film I've seen since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer over 20 years ago. If you are easily disturbed, you should not watch this movie. If, on the other hand, you are prepared for a long look into hell, suburban style, The Girl Next Door will not disappoint."

Im actually torn with how I feel with this book, I feel on one hand it sensationalizes and exploits a horrific abusive short life of such a beautiful child. On the other hand it brings it to the forefront and makes us feel real emotions at the cruelty involved and you genuinely cannot put this book down.

Jack Ketchum changed some of the characters but followed the true story in some parts. Its written from David Moran's perspective as a fictitious neighbor who is now much older and witnessed these disturbing events. Ketchum describes in graphic detail what these events may have been like from the point of view of one child (David Moran).
The Chandler house becomes the neighborhood hangout for the local kids and David takes a genuine liking to Megan as she's a spunky lively fun child.
But the Ruth Chandler starts to take a dislike to Megan beginning at simply verbal abuse escalating to harsh discipline, cruelty and extreme torture at her hands and of Ruth's own children who happily joined in with the tormenting; often including Megan's disabled sister in the punishment. She convinced her own children that Megan was dirty and deserved her punishments and eventually they became so extreme it led to her death.

This book shows the true horror by using some facts of what actually happened. There actually isn't a full plot as its true-life and there is no explanation to Ruth's increasing madness and cruelty towards Megan. Her children became actively involved and take real enjoyment at being violent towards the two girls and often came up with more and more disturbing ways to torture them.
This book is horrific and extremely sadistic and not for the feint hearted, it will break your heart to know that this was based on a true story NOT a completely  fictional, this child and her sister suffered unspeakable cruelty so you need to decide for yourself whether you wish to read this.
But reviewing as a book and storyline it was extremely well written with powerful characters that you genuinely care for or despicably hate. Its a highly emotional read especially as we start to see Meg gradually accept and give up as her captors think up more gruesome, sick ways to torture her.
Ketchum shows David showing small acts of kindness and does indeed try to help her near the end, but it was too late and it did frustrate me how he was slightly fascinated by her teenage body with his own sexual awakening and believes he was in love with her, but cannot decide whether to join in the cruelty or get help....this fact alone made me feel sick.
I get the sense that he feels his helping her by just being there and watching even though he isn't actively participating as some sort of support to Megan. But this is what makes this book even more horrific and heart wrenching and depraved. David then realizes too late his in too deep and is caught up in this families sadistic games.

It is a disturbing, extremely graphic read which will shock you and take you on an emotional roller-coaster so you need to read this at your own risk as once you start reading you wont be able to stop this horrifically engrossing read.

Amazon UK

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