A teenage girl is held captive and brutally tortured by neighborhood children. Based on a true story, this shocking novel reveals the depravity of which we are all capable.
Nothing’s worse than reality. Nothing is more disgusting or incredible – and Ketchum knew about this fact.
The more complex it is to accept and write about it; to report about it – to interpret without dramatizing.
On October 26, 1965, Sylvia Likens died from her injuries. The girl was humiliated, tormented, tortured and abused for three months in the most obnoxious way.
Sylvia Likens became 16 years old.
24 years later, Dallas Mayr, better known as "Jack Ketchum", recalls this sick tragedy. He named this commemoration The Girl next Door.
When will you not be able to make up for what happened? When will you not be able to forgive an act? When will you be unable to forgive yourself.
Ultimately these are questions, that can’t be answered and yet Ketchum ventures on a possibility, that, in its truth, in its inevitable reality, may not be just this: true; real; possible.
Children, puberty, group dynamics, power, consequence – normality.
Ketchum creates, develops, represents normality and lets it happen – lets it unimpeded, lets it rain unfiltered on the reader… like a napalm-shower.
He doesn’t use innocence as a tool, but as a witness of itself.
Two girls. Children. 14 and 12. Megan and Susan Loughlin…
Two girls, who move to their aunt, Ruth, after the accidental death of their parents and have to (literally) experience the mental deterioration of her.
The Girl next Door tells the story about Ruth, taking charge of her nieces, Meg and Susan, out of which hell is growing.
The Girl next Door describes the evolution between boys and girls – to become judges and accused.
The Girl next Door characterizes the unconditional love of two sisters – and the pain that the flesh has to suffer.
The Girl next Door reveals the adversity of humanism – and the remorse of misanthropy.
The real art of this genre is to know the thin line between "be" and "do". It should be dramatic, but not dramatize; it should represent, but not overdraw!
Ultimately, Ketchum has created something "genreless" with The Girl next Door. It’s not dramatic, it doesn’t pose, it simply is.
Even it’s written in the ego-perspective, you don’t experience the ongoing, the story, just through the eyes of David Moran – you can’t feel yourself as the guest of a grace, that lets you experience only one fate… no, finally you do not even experience – it’s not like you "may" live through this story – you walk, transform, deprave, degenerate to the fate, to the fates, of one, of this, of all memories; yourself become the memory.
Mercilessness requires grace. This inescapable condition of existence – the antagonist: in order not to rule, it needs the (logical) possibility of existence.
The possibility becomes the final fact here: the merciless existence of mercilessness, as an act of vulgar grace.
And not just the story, not just this unleashed, this "become" autarchy, also Ketchum, here as the origin of this independence, gives grace to the reader, as well as its opponent.
Grace: to have finished the book someday.
Gracefulness: to know to have finished the book someday.
It should be pointed out: The Girl next Door was released in 1989(!) – which hurts until today, which prefers to be unspoken, even rather unthought, as a sallow shadow in the consciousness, was simply impossible at that time! Ketchum didn’t just cross a boundary – he redefined it, just to leave it behind.
His chosen ego-perspective never lets the moment pass – no, makes him even more personal, more intimate… even more ruthless.
The Girl next Door is a book you want to forget, just to remember forever; a book you want to devour, because it’s exactly what it did with yourself; a book that you want to hate, because you know about your love for it – a masterpiece in its most disgusting form!
It’s not a river of tears – it’s the unstoppable nothingness, that carries the reader with it, the ultimate consequence, the ultimatum itself, which Ketchum has evoked here.