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 ruthenpress.info *FREE* Story time just got better with Prime Book Box, a subscription that delivers editorially hand-picked.
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Editorial Reviews. ruthenpress.info 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.
It is about two teen girls who are left in the care of their aunt, and the systematic and escalating abuse both of them and one sister in particular suffer at the hands of their aunt and her children. The novel is loosely based on the murder of Sylvia Likens , in Indianapolis , Indiana in , although the names of the people involved, as well as the location, time and details of the crime itself have been changed.
In it was made into a feature film, The Girl Next Door. Synopsis[ edit ] The story takes place in s suburban United States , and is told in flashback form by the narrator, David. After giving the reader a quick tour of his neighbourhood and childhood friends, David introduces Ruth, a single mother and an alcoholic amongst other things with three sons: Willie, Donny, and Ralph.
Ruth has, over time, gained the trust of the neighbourhood children by allowing them to come freely into her home, play as rough as they wish, and even drink an occasional beer with her. Ruth's nieces then enter the picture; Meg, a teen girl for whom David develops feelings and Susan, a young girl who was severely injured in a car accident and still experiences complications from it.
Both girls come to live with their aunt after the sudden death of their parents. At first, when they arrive, all seems well. However, Ruth's mental state has been deteriorating over time, and the burden of having two more children to care for seems to accelerate her descent into madness.
Ruth begins verbally abusing Meg, calling her a slut. After an incident where Meg hits Ralphie when he touches her breast, Ruth beats Susan for "being in connivance" with Meg. When Meg tries to tell a police officer about the abuse, Ruth locks her in their bomb shelter and allows her boys to strip her, then leaves her there, bound and gagged, all night. You likely won't notice, but I did. He reminded me of my father, who was on oxygen during the final years of his life.
Here's where the personal info comes into play. You can skip to "In summation" if you like. Growing up, I lived down the street from a pedophile named Eddie. The guy was arrested after a neighbor walked in on him molesting his mentally-impaired son, Jamie.
Jamie's brother Ryan soon confessed that, yes, Eddie had been messing with both of them. After that, all the kids in the neighborhood came crawling out of the woodwork with stories of how Eddie had been at them.
I recall very clearly playing hide and seek with Ryan and group of our friends. Ryan and I hid in a closet. While we were in there, Ryan unzipped his pants and pulled out his penis. He said, "Put it in your mouth.
I mean, you pee out of that thing. Why would I want to put my mouth on it? I called him nasty and he laughed. He put his dick away and said he'd only been kidding.
We played the rest of the day and never mentioned it again. 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. 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. It does its job, moving the story along nicely. I thought the use of older David looking back at the events, commenting on them whilst flashing back to the past was very effective.
The events clearly play a huge part in his later life and as he reflects as older David, it only adds to the emotional side of the story. Cash it in hell… Ketchum does an excellent job of making you hate Ruth, the evil aunt. Ketchum is a must read for all horror fans. This, and Off Season, are fantastic and horrifying. What happened next, was the basement… View all 11 comments.
Jun 26, Mort rated it it was amazing Shelves: You should ask yourself only one thing: Are you ready for this book? No matter what you think, you probably won't be. The blurb reads as follows: 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. That's it. I went into this with a lot of knowledge about the book and some about the true story, with eyes wide open and ready for You should ask yourself only one thing: I went into this with a lot of knowledge about the book and some about the true story, with eyes wide open and ready for almost anything.
Jack Ketchum was a brilliant writer and his words manages to pull you into this other reality, where you are an impotent spectator to the horrors inflicted on someone truly innocent. There were times when I wanted to scream out loud, the frustration making my blood boil. And the helplessness I felt, because I knew how this was going to end, made me wish I had the ability to do something about it.
This story will make you angry, as well you should be. These words will turn your stomach, will boil your blood, will yank at your heart and nest in the deepest darkest corners of your mind, with all the other things you wish you could forget. This is probably the most brilliantly written book I have ever read, but I can't recommend it to anyone, because those words may change you.
If you are reading this and you ever feel like you want to quit, please do.
Some things will never be unseen and some words will never be unread. You have to make up your own mind if you are willing to take that leap of faith, and whatever your motivation, please know that this is probably the most depraved thing you will ever read, because the monsters are mostly children. If you feel up to it, read the story about Sylvia Likens, who was the victim in the true story. I leave with this thought, a quote from the book: And I learned that they can taste like winning.
Dec 09, Elizabeth Sagan rated it really liked it. One star? Five stars? Throw it away? Is it a great book?
Is it a pile of shit? There are a few stages of reading it: Interesting character development. So logical. Great introspection. Oh, the tension is building even in the smallest scenes.
Oh, shit is starting to happen. This is so great. It sends a great message. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Always step in for what is right. Why would anyone write a book like this? What am I getting from this book? The main character is equally guilty. And I have no sympathy for him.
View all 5 comments. Apr 02, Paul Bryant rated it liked it Shelves: Here's another long lingering gaze upon our inhuman humanity for everyone who is still labouring under the delusion that there might be a tiny shred, maybe just a single thread, something, anything, of common decency to be found in the vast majority of ordinary people. Jack Ketchum's here to tell you - sorry. There's not. This novel is based on a real crime which took place in JK relocates it to and, creepily, as if this tale needs more creep, which it doesn't, to his home town - to h Here's another long lingering gaze upon our inhuman humanity for everyone who is still labouring under the delusion that there might be a tiny shred, maybe just a single thread, something, anything, of common decency to be found in the vast majority of ordinary people.
JK relocates it to and, creepily, as if this tale needs more creep, which it doesn't, to his home town - to his home street. To the house next door, in fact! I'll give you the gist of the whole thing so you can see that this is another book you don't need to read, which since they've made a movie of it, is also a film you don't need to see.
The time I'm saving you all! So anyone with any desire to maintain their delusions of common decency and humanity should look away now. Sylvia was Her parents were carnies, always moving, always parking the kids with relatives. In this case they parked her and her sister with an acquaintance, no more than that, called Gertrude Baniszewski who lived in Indianapolis and had a whole bunch of her own kids and was dirt poor, an asthmatic, a depressive, and as it turned out, deranged.
Sylvia very quickly became the concentrated scapegoat hate-figure for this sadistic woman. But more than that, Gertrude encouraged her own sons and their punk friends to join in with the torment. It took them a few months to torture Sylvia to death. They were reasonably creative. No one in the merry group of torturers told anyone in authority, neighbours didn't notice a thing.
When Sylvia died one of Gertrude's daughters finally freaked out and dropped a dime otherwise I guess we would never know. The whole family was rounded up and Gertrude was given life. She got out in and died in JK introduces an explanation of Gertrude's psychology in his novel she's called Ruth Chandler which is that she was a pathological hater of young women because they tormented her with their innocence and prettiness to such a pitch that she had to hand out lessons in how the world really is, what sort of suffering women have to endure, how they're all really sluts, and so forth.
So something must have occurred in her own life to drive her to this pitch of malignity, clearly. It's clear to me that the right people never go to therapy: Patient No 1: I keep having flashbacks to when my mother used to give me cheese sandwiches for my school lunch when she knew I hated cheese.
Okay, that's it, get out of my office. Patient No 2: