The girl next door book


    Media type, Paperback, Hardcover & E-book. Pages, ISBN · Preceded by, She Wakes in literature. Followed by, Offspring in literature. The Girl Next Door is a crime novel by American writer Jack Ketchum in It is about two. The Girl Next Door book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Suburbia. Shady, tree-lined streets, well-tended lawns and co. The Girl Next Door [Jack Ketchum] on *FREE* Story time just got better with Prime Book Box, a subscription that delivers editorially hand-picked.

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    The Girl Next Door Book

    Editorial Reviews. Review. The Girl Next Door is a dark and twisted story told through the eyes of a preteen boy. Set in the s, the book mixes. The Girl Next Door has, in the near quarter-century since its Now, I hadn't even heard of Ketchum or this book until the last five or six years. The Girl Next Door Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the.

    Ketchum is an in your face, no punches pulled type of author. The Girl Next Door is a horrific story, not in the sense of a scary boo but in the way of hearing about unspeakable abuse and being helpless to stop it. What makes this even more horrifying is the fact that this story was based on an actual crime committed in Indiana Sylvia and Jenny Likens were sent to stay with Gertrude Baniszewski in the summer of When dad quit sending money for the upkeep of the girls, Gertrude got angry and began taking it out on Sylvia. Soon torture became a daily occurrence for Sylvia, with Gertrude encouraging her own children and a few of their friends to participate. In October of Sylvia age 16 finally succumbed to the tortures piled upon her. The girls and their parents had been in a car crash and the parents did not survive. There they can have a beer, swear, smoke and no one is going to stop them. Ruth Chandler is a single mom with 3 boys to raise and is struggling financially. Already a bit shaky in the mental health department, the burden of two more children proves to be her undoing. Over time Ruth begins to resent her charges, it starts off with verbal abuse and rapidly grows into physical abuse. Not satisfied abusing the girls herself, she encourages her sons to partake and eventually their friends. Ruth is always offering up a justification for her actions, smoothing the way for the other to take part. This story is being told by an adult David the year

    In fact it hadn't been released by Leisure yet when searching I could only find rare HB copies that i couldn't afford. Then when the Leisure copy was released I bought it and let it sit and glare at me a long while But of course -i finally gave in!

    And WOW! You are right Ketchum was spot on with the feel of the location and emotional atmosphere. I refuse to go back there again! Great review of a book that stays with you after you've read it. The cover is just awful though. Has absolutely nothing to do with the book. Johnson that is just as disturbing,and, riveting. It was one of those once you start, you just can't stop books.

    Highly recommended. The girl that plays Meg, however, is all too good. Probably I'll check out the Millet book at some point And Bob, thanks for tipping me to the Johnson novel; sounds worth a look. Nice vintage cover, I just saw at site; not horror exactly but still Excellent review. May even get me to overcome my prejudice against this sort of book. Hats off. I prefer my horror frightening and weird, but not participatory.

    Something about these books made me feel like I was part of it, and that was very uncomfortable. The strength of your comments on this particular book make me curious to try it and find out. It's the only book by David Ketchum published in Spain by a important more or less publisher, Off season and the other about Mexico in the XIX century I don't remind the title are published by small press I know it must be extreme horror but I don't think is based on a real crime I finished reading it recently and had a strong reaction to it, too.

    The Girl Next Door Summary & Study Guide

    I wimped out on "The Girl Next Door" about halfway through. A rough one as well and not considered horror but damn well horrific. Dammit, about every time we get this deep into the comments, I get distracted by the "L'arrivee d'Sylvia Kristel" link to the right Something about these books made me feel like I was part of it, and that was very uncomfortable" Ron, you make great point here.

    This can seem pretty obnoxious. However Ketchum's skill is that he makes you identify with the narrator David, who was a participant I don't want all my horror fiction to be like GIRL, but when this kind of "true crime horror" is done right then yes, I will read it. Francisco, in the States "true crime" refers to nonfiction journalistic accounts that attempt to be objective about real-life crimes. They are not the same thing as mysteries or thrillers, which are fictional novels.

    These novels however are greatly fictionalized and are not trying to give an objective account of the events. It is a bit similar, though, yes. Ditto on the review quality, sir. This blog of yours never disappoints. As for the book, it's one of the most soul-destroyingly sad things I've ever read but well worth the experience.

    It didn't exactly restore my faith in the kindness of my fellow human beings but I'm glad I read it. Hey, Will. Great post. I've been a fan of Dallas' since I read a pre-released copy of Off Season back in the '80s. When I finished it I threw it against a wall--a fact I told to Dallas personally one of the times I met him--I think he understood.: I came to appreciate it much more as time went on.

    It certainly always stayed with me. That was my only odd experience with that family, meaning Eddie never got a hold of me. Although there were stories about how my sisters offered themselves up willingly so he would leave me alone. To this day I'm not sure if that's true. It's not something I feel comfortable asking them, because we're not that close. Soon after he was caught, one of the girls on the block came up pregnant.

    Rumors flooded the street about how the father was Eddie. The girl's mother had had a thing for him and used her daughter as a bargaining chip to win Eddie's attention. Years later, I remember thinking, what kind of woman would do such a thing? Reading The Girl Next Door hit me that much harder because of all that. Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all genders. Unfortunately, people like Ruth exist.

    Trust me. I know. When Eddie got out of jail a few weeks later, he would park on the cross street and walk up and down our block. He'd point at houses and nod his head. He'd wave at anyone he'd happen to catch in their yards or looking out their windows. This was years before sexual predators had to register on a national list, and it was months before a restraining order was put into effect.

    Some of you might recognize parts of this story because I put a different version of these events in one of my books. Looking back, I know how lucky I was.

    In summation: Rereading this wasn't a bright idea, but I don't regret it. I'll never say that I enjoy reading it, but I feel everyone should experience it at least once. Final Judgment: Utterly horrific. View all 16 comments. The story is told through the eyes of David, the boy who lives next door and who is witness to the escalating abuse and torture that these girls endure at the hands of the aunt and the rest of the children in the neighbourhood.

    First of all, I need to explicitly warn potential readers that this book is very gr "My mom says Meg's the lucky one," he said. First of all, I need to explicitly warn potential readers that this book is very graphic and detailed, and it is NOT for the faint of heart. That being said, I can categorically state that this is the most brutal, disturbing, upsetting, traumatising book that I have ever read.

    I did not enjoy reading this book, it made me angry, upset, and downright incredulous that people are capable of such inhumane actions, because this is not just some sick and twisted idea that Ketchum came up with, it is based on a true story. I read up on this case after finishing the book and somehow the events that actually happened are even worse.

    Ketchum's writing in this is not flowery and beautifully written - it is full of short and abrupt sentences that just cut right to the chase. And this suits the type of story that he is trying to tell and the reaction that he is trying to provoke.

    And boy, does he succeed. It's not an easy read by any means, at times I just wanted to shut the book and throw it in the bin - but it's also an important book, because these things DO happen.

    People DO torture children and adults for that matter. But at the same time, in the light of such acts of violence and human depravity, we need people who will act out against it. Granted, not everyone wants to read about it, but I think it's something we all need to be aware of.

    Sometimes not doing anything is almost as bad as those taking part in such crimes. David is an interesting character, we learn everything that happens through his recollection of events. Although he never actually partakes in any of the abuse, is he complicit because he is aware of it, even though he is only a 12 year old boy? The girl who bore the brunt of the abuse, Meg, is heroic in my eyes. She endures abuse and torture that you cannot even fathom, and yet she manages to hold onto her dignity - no matter how much they try to take it away from her.

    Any opportunity where she is close to giving in, all they need to do is threaten her sister and Meg will endure whatever they put her through. How I cried for this young girl. Rating this book was tough, as I cannot say I "enjoyed it".

    However, I found it hard to stop reading, and it evoked such a strong emotional reaction in me that can only be gained from solid writing and a well-executed story, with empathetic characters in this case, Meg and her sister. It's a powerful book, one of the most powerful I've ever read, and Ketchum has achieved exactly what he set out to do: View all 8 comments.

    May 15, Evgnossia O'Hara marked it as to-read. I've seen the movie a couple of days ago. It gave me nightmares. I don't think that I have the courage to read the book. I'm pretty sure that it'll drive me insane. Won't happen any time soon. View all 9 comments. Aug 08, Dan Schwent rated it really liked it Shelves: When a pretty girl named Meg moves in next door, young Davy is smitten. Soon, however, Meg's aunt Ruth begins mistreating Meg and invites her children to help.

    Can Davy help Meg escape? Or will he join in her torment?

    This is the twentieth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.

    This is one brutal damn book. At the beginning, it felt like Stephen King's comi When a pretty girl named Meg moves in next door, young Davy is smitten. Then it became darker and darker until it was physically wearing me out to read it. The Girl Next Door is a story of abuse, torture, and helplessness.

    Like I said, it's a pretty brutal read. Davy is torn between fitting in and trying to save Meg from the progressively more hellish life at Ruth's house.

    Ketchum paints a horrifying picture of life in an abusive environment. The book became increasingly more uncomfortable to read because of his skill at depicting the horrors going on in the basement. In the end, this was a hard book to rate. I thought it was very powerful but I can't say I actually enjoyed reading it past the halfway mark. The torture was too much but I had to see the book through until the end. The most horrifying thing about the book is that it was based on an actual incident.

    I'm giving it a four because of the impact the story and the writing had, not because of any enjoyment or entertainment I got out of the story. I doubt I'll be reading more Ketchum any time soon. Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: Oct 27, Fabian rated it really liked it.

    Great, cruel cautionary tale. The type that valiantly finds the Sad in Sadism. Jewels, really, all of them, to our culture. It is a summer idyll worthy of Lord of the Flies Great, cruel cautionary tale. It is a summer idyll worthy of Lord of the Flies! And the children come directly from the same mold that made Stephen King's Children of the Corn but nothing so corny to be found here. It is a devastating type of realism that I have not come to expect outside of true snuff-stuff or the superb, undervalued film by Peter Jackson, "Heavenly Creatures.

    Apr 03, Maciek rated it really liked it Shelves: The most horrifying thing about Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door is that it is based on a true incident - horrendous abuse, torture and eventual murder of the 16 year old Sylvia Likens in Sylvia's parents, carnival workers who moved often, left her and her sister in Indianapolis under care of their acquaintaince, Gertrude Baniszewski.

    Baniszewski was paid to care for the girls, but as the payments were late she began to abuse the young girls, focusing the torrents of her anger on Sylvia. Details of this abuse are too horrible to recount, but what is horrifying is that Baniszewski openly encouraged her own children and those of the neighbors to indulge in tormenting Sylvia on their own, imprisoning her in the basement. Although Baniszewski's daughter, Paula, would not only brag about it in public but also beat Sylvia in front of the neighbors, nobody did anything to stop it or help her in any way - Sylvia eventually died from her extensive injuries.

    I did not know about this before I read the book - in fact, I approached it without knowing anything about it. I have only read one novel by Jack Ketchum before, Off Season , which is a visceral, gruesome horror novel featuring a tribe of cannibals and some very unlucky vacationers somewhere in remote woods in Maine the same state where Stephen King lives and sets most of his work. Although it has plenty of intense and graphic violence, Off Season lacks pretty much everything else, which made it a rather disappointing reading experience for this reader.

    The Girl Next Door is a much better book, because in it Ketchum does what he didn't do in Off Season - develop a proper build up and characters, and establish tension which lasts almost all throughout the novel. The narrator of the novel, David, writes it down as a recollection of events which happened a long time ago, when he was growing up in a small town. Although David is a successful financier on Wall Street, he has two failed marriages behind him already, and is at the eve of the third - he is filled with sadness, regret and guilt, haunted and gradually destroyed by events which took place thirty years ago.

    To an outsider, David's childhood was a relatively normal experience of a young boy growing up in a small town in the 's. Although he can see that his parents have marital troubles and knows of his fathers's affairs, he has a circle of friends who live right next door to him - the Chandler boys who live with their mother, Ruth. Their father left the family for another woman, leaving Ruth alone to take care of the three boys.

    Everyone at the street loved to hang out at Ruth's place - even though she kept her boys in line, she also gave them beers and let them enjoy themselves; David and his friends felt good at Ruth's place, because it was a place where they could be themselves, and feel natural - in David's case more so than at home. Although David does not consider his childhood to be special in any way, there is no suggestion that he is unhappy - he camped with his friends in a real tent, listened to Elvis on a record player, smoked cigarettes and drank beers in secret.

    In another life his childhood recollection would be much more in tune with the novel's idyllic opening image: The woods and the brook are both the opening of the book, and the end of David's childhood: David is smitten with Meg, and confused by her - she is older than other girls that he knows, and his feelings towards her are different.

    He longs and yearns for something when he sees her, but doesn't exactly know what; Ketchum manages to capture the butterflies of youthful infatuation in his net - David learns that Meg is a distant relative of the Chandler's, and that she will be moving in with them together with her younger sister, Susan, after they both lost their parents in a car accident.

    The accident left Meg with a scar, and Susan crippled - unable to walk without her crutches.

    David is even more impressed with Meg as a survivor: In another life, these moments could develop into a beautiful romance; here, they are a prelude to a great tragedy. The problem with novels based on real events is that we know what will eventually happen, and it is no great surprise when it finally does.

    This is also the case with The Girl Next Door , but does not ruin the book. Ketchum does a very good job with establishing a slow buildup, with proper foreshadowing in all the right places. The specter of horror hangs over the book, and when it finally descends it begins slow, but quickly becomes almost unimaginable. There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of such cases all over the world There are two big Whys in this book - why did Ruth begin abusing Meg and her sister?

    Was she jealous of her youth and beauty, which painfully reminded her of her own age and hardships which tore away at her looks? Did Meg remind her of her husband, who ran away with a woman who could have been her? Did she think that her boys might become interested in Meg more than they were in her? Did she not want her authority questioned, both as a parent and a woman? I think this question is not adequately answered - but then again we see Ruth only from David's perspective, and although he sees her at her house he mostly spends time with her boys, and does not live with them.

    David acknowledges that he does not understand why she did what she did - destroyed a young girl. The other big why regards the Chandler children and David - why did they participate in the abuse and grew increasingly more ferocious, and why did David do nothing to stop them and stood idly by? How could the Chandlers horribly abuse and torture Meg, and at the same time go on with their lives as if this was a perfectly ordinary thing to happen? Although David does not take part in the abuse of Meg, he does not do anything to stop it or tell his own parents - until it is too late.

    Besides Meg and Susan who are both obvious innocents, David is the only decent character in the entire book - yet he is not without his flaws and desires, which he himself acknowledges: When he does see Meg naked and in captivity, he is overcome with desire to touch her. His saving grace is that he doesn't touch Meg, but his condemnation is that he doesn't stop others from touching her, and doing worse things.

    Of all the youths in the book, David is the only character who is at first taken aback by Meg's treatment, and eventually sees what is happening to her as something terribly wrong. He is the only boy who sympathizes with Meg, and who feels ashamed at what is happening and his own role in it - but this knowledge, or conscience if you will, makes him even more guilty than those who took part in her abuse.

    The Chandler children did it all under the watchful eye of their mother - if she would order them to stop, they would stop immediately. If she'd forbid them from hurting her, they would not hurt her.

    But Ruth did not only not stop her sons from torturing Meg, she actively encouraged it and took part in it herself.

    The Girl Next Door (Ketchum novel) - Wikipedia

    David acknowledges that this torment was Ruth's show - her presence hangs above them like a ghost, even when she is not in the room with them. Although Ruth set a series of rules which would justify the abuse -as much for the boys, as for herself - these rules eventually collapsed together with her sanity, and all the bets were off. Still, even then, she watched over everything - and everything was possible because she allowed it to be so.

    Should we hate David? Condemn him for not helping Meg, not telling others about her torment? It is easy for us to be outraged, even furious with him, by being entirely removed from his position and enriched by hindsight. Could David possibly know what would happen to the sweet girl he first saw at the brook?

    David does not have anyone to talk to - he understand that talking to other kids is pointless; although they knew that something was happening at Ruth's house - some vaguely, others with specific detail - not a single one of them had any opinion about it. It was like a force of nature ; there was no point in discussing something that can't be influenced. In fact, it was not the torment that was a force of nature, but the fact that it took place under the watch and guidance of an adult.

    In the small, suburban community in the 's, adults controlled all aspects of lives of children: This was the social order on which many today look fondly upon: This was the whole point of it: Parental love was not supposed to be easy and selfless, but exactly the opposite. It was supposed to be tough love , which would adequately prepare children for many hardships which would await them in the world. Kids had to be straightened out , made into proper men and women.

    At one point David acknowledges that kids belong to their parents, "body and soul We were property". David is conflicted. If Ruth is an adult, a parent of his best friends and now a parental figure for Meg, then who is he to judge that what she is doing is wrong? How can he know that what she is doing to Meg now will not turn out to have been right in the future after all? He still feels attracted to Meg, but Ruth and her children are his old friends, who were always good to him.

    In a memorable scene, David sees Meg approach a police officer to complain about her mistreatment. Along with the other kids who witness the scene, David feels a sense of betrayal - how could she tell on them, and to an adult?

    He tells Meg she should think of Mrs. Chandler as her mother, and that her mother would probably treat her the same way.

    Who's to say? Shouldn't snitches be punished? David tries to talk to his father, but he is no good. When David asks his father if it is ever right to hit a woman, he realizes that with his evasive and non-committal answers his father is trying to justify his own lashing out at his mother, which led to the coldness and distance between them.

    It becomes apparent that David's father does not know his own son, and that David is unable to connect with his father; mostly he feels nothing for him, and if he does feel any emotion it is usually contempt.

    Later in the book, David tries to tell his mother - but realizes that he cannot; although she is the only person he can tell, he realizes that by his own indifference he also took part in Meg's torment, and is unable to tell this to her. He realizes that he has betrayed Meg, and sees himself as evil - Does he fear that this is how his mother will also see him, or does he fear that this is who he actually is?

    We were juveniles , writes David at the end of the book, as if legal classification could offer any explanation. By now it is obvious that this entire writing is not really meant for any reader, but for himself; he confesses to everything that happened now because he did not then, but just as then there is no person who can help him now.

    He is alone and realizes this, plagued by recurring nightmares of his own failure to act, which destroy his relationships and life. This is where the true horror of this book lies - not description of torture and abuse. They actually are not as graphic as I expected them to be - they are horrific, but Ketchum doesn't focus on them.

    I can easily see many instances in which this book could have easily turned into simple, schlock horror, but violence is limited to an effective but not overbearing level. The actual horror is the gradually emerging sense of complicity in something terrible - and the fact that David uses as a poor attempt at consoling himself at the beginning, but which makes things infinitely worse: View all 10 comments. Aug 11, Kelly and the Book Boar rated it really liked it Shelves: Find all of my reviews at: Ever read something that made you feel like you should turn yourself over to the authorities because only psychotic criminals would be interested in the subject matter you just exposed yourself to?

    If so, then you've probably already read The Girl Next Door. Yes, it should have been — but there is a darkness inside the Chandler family home that is brought to light with the addition of two girls to the household.

    They are stories that if you follow too closely make you feel like a sociopathic voyeur. This book takes you into the torture chamber and insanity that you know exists each time you see another story like that of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus. As for me? View all 7 comments. Feb 23, Paul O'Neill rated it really liked it. Check out all my reviews on my blog page: No one makes me squeamish quite like Ketchum. The story is about two teenage girls who are left in the care of their aunt after a horrible accident.

    It tells the story of the escalating abuse both of them suffer at the hands of their aunt and her children. The Check out all my reviews on my blog page: The story is told through the view of David, who finds the abuse compelling as well as horrific and tells the story of his struggle with it as he comes to terms with what is really happening. Writing The book is short and the writing is crisp.

    Buy for others

    It does its job, moving the story along nicely. He heaved. He heaves a decent amount from all the chemo crap they put him through. Then he gargled with the water Maria, the housekeeper, leaves next to the pot every night. All of a sudden he made this kind of wounded noise and I thought he was gonna heave again, but he was sobbing.

    One minute he was the star baseball player in high school, class president and the first junior to be editor of the school newspaper. All down the rows of slamming lockers at Midland Prep you could always hear the name Jesse Parker.

    Girls wanted to date him.

    Guys wanted to hang with him to get the excess girls. The next minute, he was being radiated like Hiroshima, even though the doctors said he was probably gonna die anyway. I cracked my eyes open.

    The sun shined in through his window, right on his shelves of trophies and awards on the wall facing us. A beautiful Saturday morning. Instead, the uniform and cap hung at the back of his closet, the cleats were tossed who knew where, the bat leaned in the far corner, and Jess lay in bed, some days barely able to walk.

    He might get embarrassed. Or maybe he wanted me to wake up. I decided to do it. Your email address will not be published.