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The Perfect Nanny

Warnings: Child Death

I really struggled to put my thoughts together on this book, partially because The Perfect Nanny was not what I had expected and one of the more unique stories I’ve ever read. I feel that it is mismarketed as a mystery thriller when it was neither, to me this is a horror novel through and through. I think I would have liked this book better if I had known this beforehand.

The plot is slow and very intense as a portrait of Louise is formed from the point of view of other characters and their interactions with her. It occurred to me after a time that the shifting narration was important, because it presents the story of the “perfect nanny” almost like a ghost story, a witness statement to the police about the perpetrator.

The prose is taut and very precise, creating an uncomfortable, almost suffocating atmosphere for the reader. This is definitely an introspective novel, with a lot of commentary on the roles of women as caregivers and French society. It’s an interesting character study and I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially after I took some time to let the story sink in. If you’re looking for a traditional mystery with a cause and exciting climax you’ll find yourself disappointed.

Also a bit of trivia, but I found out after I had finished the book that the story is loosely based on a real tragedy that happened back in 2012. Just knowing this little bit of information makes the story that much more chilling.

“She gave the baby a bath and thought to herself that this happiness–this simple, silent, prisonlike happiness–was not enough to console her.”

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A Girl on the Shore

Also by this author: Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, Nijigahara Holograph, Solanin

My Thoughts

A Girl on the Shore is a manga that I didn’t know that I needed. It’s a story about two youths, struggling with an oppressive ennui that leads them to become friends with benefits. This isn’t a love story by any means, as many that have ever entered in a true “no strings” friendship can probably attest to. It is about loneliness, selfishness, and the complexity of relationships.

“We just do it and do it, but I keep feeling like it’s not enough. Why do you think?”

I was surprised with how much I related to this manga, I was in a similar place for the better part of a year. We were friends, but not really, and then I quietly stepped out. I do not look at the experience positively or negatively, it was an experience that helped to soothe me, but also made me think about what I truly wanted.

This is the tone of A Girl on the Shore, as Koume deals with rejection after being used by a playboy, and Keisuke struggles with suicidal depression. The two start off as classmates as Keisuke initially tries to support Koume, conceding to her request to sleep together after she had rejected him.

This book depicts sex in a way that isn’t beautiful or stimulating at all. Two teenagers lost in the drama of youth, both characters selfish and eventually growing to resent each other, but needing the other at the same time. Both struggle with their desire for something more, something better in their lives. The characters grow and change emotionally, constantly dipping into self-destructive behavior. This is one of the most real pieces of fiction that I have ever read in my life because it speaks volumes about an emotional experience that often gets overly glamorized.

Warnings: sex between pre-teens, depression