By Mary Downing Hahn
Clarion Books, 16.99, 330 pages
Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn is a chilling tale of a brutal murder set in an otherwise peaceful small town of the 1950s. Hahn is experienced in winding tales of fictional phantoms, but she bases her new young adult novel on a true crime and real ghosts who have haunted her for years. The novel is told from multiple perspectives including Nora, a friend to the girls who are murdered, the diaries of the victims, and the killer himself, a clearly troubled boy who attends the same high school as the girls and is physically abused by his father. Before tragedy hits this small town Nora is an average, naive, and sheltered teenager. She has just finished her junior year of high school and cannot think of much more than her crush on Don Appleton, and carefree nighttime parties in the park. When that same park becomes a crime scene, her beliefs in God begin to falter. “Why did you let them die why did you let it happen what kind of God are you I can’t believe in you anymore!” Her carefree adolescence comes to an abrupt close.
I recommend Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls to teen readers of any age who enjoy stories that engage the emotions and shock the mind. Many of my younger high school students have noted that the cultural differences between the 1950s and present day are difficult to understand, but this book has otherwise been a classroom favorite of 2012!
Reviewed by Emily Davis