Saturday, July 11, 2015

Revew: Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn

Mister Death's Blue-Eyed GirlsTitle: Mister Deaths's Blue-eyed Girls
Author: Mary Downing Hahn 
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publishing Date: April 17th 2012
Pages: 330
Genre: YA  Historical Fiction/Coming of Age
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audio
Based on an actual crime in 1955, this YA novel is at once a mystery and a coming-of-age story. The brutal murder of two teenage girls on the last day of Nora Cunningham's junior year in high school throws Nora into turmoil. Her certainties, friendships, religion, her prudence, her resolve to find a boyfriend taller than she is - are shaken or cast off altogether. 

Most people in Elmgrove, Maryland, share the comforting conviction that Buddy Novak, who had every reason to want his ex-girlfriend dead, is responsible for the killings. Nora agrees at first, then begins to doubt Buddy's guilt, and finally comes to believe him innocent - the lone dissenting voice in Elmgrove.

Told from several different perspectives, including that of the murderer,Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls is a suspenseful page-turner with a powerful human drama at its core.
I have had this book on my tbr for such a long time. I had the paperback arc so…. that is how long I have had it on my list. I wanted to read it, I refused to get rid of the ARC, but I never seemed to grab it when grabbing a new book to read. Then it came out on audio and moved it up on my list but still took me a while to grab. I finally grabbed it and I loved it. What took me so dang long. This book was amazing. I will say it was not in the least what I expected. It was more a drama, coming of age book then a murder mystery… but the feels I felt in the book made it amazing for me. Tears, anger, laughter, pity, it was all just crazy…. And yes there was some happy too. Not all terrible. This was real book for me though. It tore me to pieces.
In a very small town in 1956, two teenage girls are murdered as they travel to their last day of the school year. Nora is their friend and she has a hard time dealing with the events that happened. Buddy was one of the girls boyfriend. He is the main suspect and even though there is no evidence everyone believes it was him. This is the story of these two teens and how they dealt with the tragedy, how they dealt with the loss, and how they went on with life. 

One thing I noticed as soon as I read about this book, the thing that grabbed me – beyond the title- the fact it was based on a real crime. This is not a non- fiction, there is a bunch of fiction but the story was based around a real crime from 1955. This became intriguing to me because its about two teen age girls that were brutally shot in the 1950’s. yes crime did happen back in the good ole days but it just seemed so rare and the 50’s has always been an era that peaked my interest. Fun, innocent, laid back. That is what I think of when I think of this decade. So murder interests me and the 50’s interest me so I needed to read this book and this book gave me what I wanted even if it wasn’t in the delivery that I expected. I did expect more murder mystery feel or thriller style but it came in a coming of age story. Which worked exceptionally well for this book.

The setting for the story was a very small town in Maryland in the 1950's. The feel, the descriptions, the ways of living for the characters completely enveloped me into this time and place. This was done so well I had a hard time separating myself once I closed the book.  This was the kind of story where a great setting and a great tone was needed to really portray the feelings and thoughts of the narratives and it was done exceptionally well. Not only did I feel,see, and live this story I was able to connect very early on to the characters. It was so beautifully written. 

The characters were all great. The story is told from multiple narratives but the main one is Nora. A friend of the murdered girls. This is her story and how she copes with the tragedy, the questions that the murders bring, and losing those she loves. Nora was a naive girl however she felt genuine to this time. I don't feel she was more naive than any other girl at 16 of this decade. Nora experiences so much in this story from kissing to crime and it was a real journey to experience it with her. She didn't handle things well. I think that she would have handled so much more if the murders hadn't happened. Knowing the murders did happen and not knowing what it means or why it happened Nora questions everything and feels everything so strongly. 

Another narrative is from Buddy, the boy that the entire town believes murdered the girl. This was a very sad story. From the very beginning the readers know Buddy didn't commit the crimes even if they do not know who did. So knowing that the entire town insists he is the murderer and knowing he lost someone he truly loved, its hard to be in his head. Its sad and Buddy does the best he can to deal with it all. 

There is also the voice of the murderers in this book. Not know who they are by name but knowing they did the killing. They were creepy and haunting and just sick in the head. It was nice to get a glimpse of evil too. 

There were so many narratives but these were the most common and I do believe it was more their story. The narratives connected well and were well done. I never felt lost over whose head I was in and the voices were so extremely different, it ran very smoothly. 

The friendships and loves were so good in this book. My favorite was the friendship between Buddy and Nora. I wanted so much more from them and their time together was so short. I wanted to see it bloom and take off but it wasn't for this story. I was happy with what I did get and it was sweet and honest. Comforting. 

The story really was compelling and beautiful. Like I said so many feels and in such a short time. The book isn't long and its a very fast read but it's deep and real and honest. It captured my heart and then broke it and then healed it and finally set it free. 

The reader of this audio was one of my favorites and I can't ever say enough about her. I really enjoy Kate Rudd.. I love her readings, she brings the voices to life so well. Nick
Podehl also narrates and he is extremely good too. Actually kind of scary how good he does the evil. Two great readers so if you like audio books.... this one is for sure one to listen to instead of read. 

One more thing.... after the story there is an afterward by the author about the real crime and how this book was a fictional story based around the events of the real crime. I liked the afterward and I am glad it was there. It just made so much of my feels feel even more real. 

Loved it! This story will forever be a part of my heart. 

Mary Downing HahnI grew up in a small shingled house down at the end of Guilford Road in College Park, Maryland. Our block was loaded with kids my age. We spent hours outdoors playing "Kick the Can" and "Mother, May I" as well as cowboy and outlaw games that usually ended in quarrels about who shot whom. In the summer, we went on day long expeditions into forbidden territory -- the woods on the other side of the train tracks, the creek that wound its way through College Park, and the experimental farm run by the University of Maryland.                                                                                                                                                              
By the time my first novel was published, I was 41 years old. That's how long it took me to get serious about writing. The Sara Summer took me a year to write, another year to find a publisher, and yet another year of revisions before Clarion accepted it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Since Sara appeared in 1979, I've written an average of one book a year. If I have a plot firmly in mind when I begin, the writing goes fairly quickly. More typically, I start with a character or a situation and only a vague idea of what's going to happen. Therefore, I spend a lot of time revising and thinking things out. If I'd paid more attention to the craft of outlining back in elementary school, I might be a faster writer, but, on the other hand, if I knew everything that was going to happen in a story, I might be too bored to write it down. Writing is a journey of discovery. That's what makes it so exciting. 

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