Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls

Mary Downing Hahn, Author
Mary Downing Hahn. Clarion, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-547-76062-9
Reviewed on: 06/11/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
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In a gripping story all the more chilling for its roots in a real-life crime that touched Hahn's (The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall) life, two Maryland teenage girls are murdered on their way to school in 1956. The author skillfully threads together the voices of several individuals affected by the tragedy. The predominant voice is that of 16-year-old Nora, a friend of the victims who realizes that "Nothing is what it used to be. It will never be the same again." Frightened and confused, Nora questions her Catholic faith ("Why does God let horrible things happen to people?), grapples with her insecurities ("Not stylish. Not pretty") and her fears ("Hell. Death. Especially death. But also sex"). She cautiously befriends Buddy, the boy who everyone else believes killed the girls. Buddy and the actual murderer contribute to the narrative, which also includes excerpts from the murdered girls' diaries and references to period films, music, and fashion. This wrenching novel offers an aggregate portrait of the effects of loss and grief, including both the strengthening and dissolution of relationships. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
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