What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that You Know What You Have to Do is a muddled story about a teen who obeys an inner voice commanding her to murder an abusive alcoholic and two savage bullies to satisfy her sense of justice. (The murders are violent but bloodless.) Maggie has nightmares and berates herself for being heartless, but is careful to hide the truth. Murder has no effect on Maggie's constant wisecracking about her mom and other topics of teen angst. The author creates a sympathetic character who can't help killing people. The novel presents the horror of a killer who blends in perfectly, but also trivializes the killer and her victims.
What's the story?
Maggie can't ignore the voice in her head that tells her to kill one bad person after another: the abusive father of her best friend, a hunter who threatens her dog, a bully who picks on a little girl. When two of Maggie's crimes are witnessed by other kids, they have to be dealth with too. Insight into her family's past -- someone else heard the same voice -- and the loss of a loved one nudge Maggie, in the end, toward redemption. But the voice doesn't go away.
Is it any good?
Creating a serial killer with such typical teen problems as a clueless mom and a bonehead boyfriend takes more doing than this award-winning author has come up with. Characters drop into the story as if lowered by ropes to satisfy turns in the plot. The crime scenes are strewn with clues that nobody picks up on. And is it supposed to be funny that Maggie, who has nightmares after burning someone to death, goes for counseling -- only to get a crush on her cute psychologist? Maybe that's who the writer's going for, that reader with an odd sense of humor.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the difference between having a conscience and an untamed inner voice.
Is it ever just to administer justice all by yourself?
If Maggie's mind is found to be diseased, what should be her punishment?