In the waning days of the turbulent 1970s, in the wake of unsolved child-killings that have shocked Detroit, the lives of several residents are drawn together with tragic consequences.

There is Hannah, wife of a prominent local businessman, who has begun an affair with a darkly charismatic stranger whose identity remains elusive; Mikey, a canny street hustler who finds himself on a chilling mission to rectify injustice; and the serial killer known as Babysitter, an enigmatic and terrifying figure at the periphery of elite Detroit. As Babysitter continues his rampage of abductions and killings, these individuals intersect with one another in startling and unexpected ways.

Suspenseful, brilliantly orchestrated, and engrossing, Babysitter is a starkly narrated exploration of the riskiness of pursuing alternate lives, calling into question how far we are willing to go to protect those whom we cherish most. In its scathing indictment of corrupt politics, unexamined racism, and the enabling of sexual predation in America, Babysitter is a thrilling work of contemporary fiction.

curl up and read thoughts

I alternately love and ponder the books of this author, so I was eager to try Babysitter. There are parts of the book that kept me intrigued, while other aspects felt weird and very confusing. Characters whose voices seem mysterious kept me turning the pages, however, wondering where they would lead us.

The story echoed many moments of the 1970s, though, which interested me.

Overall, I found the book too strange, although it does have the JCO flare. I was relieved for it to end. Therefore, a 3.5 rating.



  1. Oates is one of my favorite authors (although I heard/saw her read in person once, and she’s certainly not a speaker, lol). This one looks worth finding and trying on. Your review was not only well written, but helpful to me. Right now, I am reading a collection of short stories by Oates titled Lovely, Dark and Deep. Trust me, she’s still “got it!”

    Liked by 1 person

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