Updated: Jan 30, 2020
TITLE: The Perfect Nanny
AUTHOR: Leila Slimani
PUBLISHER: Penguin Books
PUBLISHED DATE: January 9, 2018
This book had me shook!
I'm in my feelings, so there'll probably be spoilers....
A yuppie french Moroccan mom decides to return to work and hires a nanny to care for her daughter and son. After nearly a year of excellent care, the nanny kills the children. This book exemplifies character development, suspense building, and will take you all the way to the climax of the story and then pull a final-shot-of-the-Sopranos moment and leave you entirely hanging. I kind of loved it, but I understand why a lot of people don't and won't. This book is not your typical thriller. The quality of the writing pushes it squarely into a peak literary category. It does not aim to dissect the mind of a killer or to take the reader through a step by step of how the murderer commits a crime; instead it introduces you to the potential monsters that lay dormant all around you. In this way, it is chilling to its core.
In the very first sentence...you already know what has happened. Slimani begins ominously, "The baby is dead." I read that first sentence and proceeded until I was done. The consensus of the book club discussion was that this book was far too dark...particularly for our anniversary celebration, and we spent a better part of the meeting discussing literary novels that are not depressing...as you can imagine, that list is short.
More than being a story about a dead baby, this story brings motherhood and feminism head to head in a battle royale. Miryam is a successful lawyer. After months of isolation and lack of intellectual stimulation, she decides to return to work. Slimani shows us the bittersweet reality of motherhood....wanting the best for your kids and still want the best for yourself. Whether this book is judgmental towards working mothers is for readers to decide. Whether we'd like to admit it or not, there are abusive nannies, babysitters, and daycare workers in abundance in the world. Though the act they commit is heinous, they are human beings with lives, and stories, and a journey that leads them to actions that baffle and destroy us. Like most mothers who have lost their children due to the evil deeds of someone they trusted, readers will never really know why. No matter how much we know about a killer and what the events that lead to their crime, we will never fully understand why they did it.
I would highly recommend this book for the thriller lover who has discriminating tastes in books. This book could have been a very dull predictable read. This is a french translation, and the pacing, plot, and word choice at times create minor gliches in the flow of the story. The author's choice to omit so many details intrigued me. Perhaps this book is not as exciting when you know a rationale and method will not be provided. Either way, the incisive way Simani writes is still more than enough to make for a very gripping read. Readers will never be satisfied. The ending leaves you both disgusted and yet hungry for more.
Recommendation: Read it! You'll be left wanting more which is way better than being bored.
Audience: Grown ups
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