"Annie Phillips is thrilled to leave her past behind and begin a shiny new life on Belvedere Island, as a nanny for the picture-perfect Cohen family. In no time at all, she falls in love with the Cohens, especially with Libby, the beautiful young matriarch of the family. Life is better than she ever imagined. She even finds romance with the boy next door.
All too soon cracks appear in Annie's seemingly perfect world. She's blamed for mistakes she doesn't remember making. Her bedroom door comes unhinged, and she feels like she's always being watched. Libby, who once felt like a big sister, is suddenly cold and unforgiving. As she struggles to keep up with the demands of her new life, Annie's fear gives way to frightening hallucinations. Is she tumbling into madness, or is something sinister at play?
"The Ruining" is a complex ride through first love, chilling manipulation, and the terrifying depths of insanity." Razorbill Publishing
Title: The Ruining
Author: Anna Collomore
Type: Young Adult
Tea: Chai Yen Thai Tea: not quite sure what to expect, but had me guessing the whole time.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
*Warning! Here be spoilers!*
I found The Ruining at the library while sitting on the floor and trying to figure out what kind of book I was looking for. Turns out this was perfect! I love a good story that messes with my head. Anything dark and twisty is just up my alley and The Ruining did not disappoint.
Annie Phillips is starting a new life away from her hometown of Detroit, where life is less than spectacular (and the city was rated 2013's number one most miserable city in the United States, so there's that too). She's going to beautiful San Francisco for school and is going to work as a nanny for a beautiful family, the Cohens. Sound too good to be true? It is.
There are clues from the beginning, but reading it you don't realize these things until later. Or at least don't fully think of them. Like, who would really pay at nanny that much money to be able to afford college and have extra money to spare? I get these people are loaded, but they're sending the tuition checks? Dang. But more of that later.
Annie is also haunted by the death of her little sister, Lissa, which she blames herself for. Lissa drowned in the pool that their POS stepfather put in and wouldn't fix the gate for, while Annie was reading. Lissa's death has haunted Annie for her whole life. You can tell she's so excited to get away because she doesn't even wonder why a family who knows her background would let her be a nanny to a three year old girl after that. I'm not saying you can't be given a second chance, but most parents probably wouldn't risk that for their child.
Right from the start Libby Cohen had all kinds of red flags for me. No one, I mean no one, is that overly friendly. Especially with someone they've known for a day. Giving Annie her clothes? Getting your nanny drunk? This woman is clearly unhinged already.
As the novel progresses Libby is pretty nice and they have very few roadblocks and there's so confusing situations with Zoe (the daughter) and her referencing "mommy" and Libby not knowing what she's talking about. But when Annie goes to find Zoe's tricycle the shit really hits the fan. She finds evidence of Walker's (the husband) first wife and learn there's some weird stuff going on here. And Libby starts on a crazy spiral, dragging Annie down with her.
Libby starts, obviously, purposely messing with Annie's life. She knows Annie's past and Annie's insecurities, so she exploits those. She removes Annie's door from her room, she calls her "Nanny" and when she's questioned about it, denies it. She purposely takes Zoe swimming and makes it look as if she's drowned. She sabotages Annie's freshman year in college. And oh yeah, the hot guy next door, Owen, that Annie is seeing? Libby tries to mess with that too.
The book basically culminates in Libby convincing Annie she's insane and sending her to a mental hospital, where everything finally comes out, thanks to the hot guy, who also happens to be a computer nerd. Convenient. I feel bad for Annie for what happens to her, of course, but she had many chances to find out what was going on and chances to get out of there.
In the end, it was fairly obvious what was going on, but Ms. Collomore wrote it in a way that made me second guess myself. So even though I pretty much knew what happened, I was never set for sure. Libby, having been the nanny herself and taking over the household, was clearly intimidated by the fact that Annie knew their secrets. Libby killed Adele (Walker's first wife) and wanted someone around that could take the blame for Zoe's death. Who better than a girl who's little sister died under her care? She drove Annie insane so no one would question what happened, because clearly the nanny isn't competent.
At the end Owen saves Annie and she is finally able to move forward with the life she wanted. Yay, all is happy and good. But I still have some unresolved questions:
- How did Annie's mom not know who she was when she called? Did Libby get her in on it?
- How did Libby get Annie's phone calls not to show up on Owen's phone, when they do other times?
- How did Libby get Morgan's phone calls not to show up on Annie's phone? Or was Morgan somehow involved in the situation? Also, did Libby want Morgan to make Annie question her relationship with Owen?
Despite some unanswered questions the book was entertaining and I read it in one sitting. The thought of being psychologically manipulated is scary and Ms. Collomore handled this book very well. I'm looking forward to seeing what she writes next!