Everyone, at one time or another, becomes the victim of inflated expectations. You look to the future and think, for one reason or another, that it will be so much better than the present. "Friday's dance will be the best dance ever!" "I am going to kick butt at my big soccer game on Tuesday." "My new haircut is going to make everyone at school think of me as a totally different person. The person I have always wanted to be!" But, no matter whether or not that dance was the best dance ever, in the end, the stakes aren't really that high. Your hair will eventually grow out and you'll move on. Unfortunately, that is not the case for Annie, a girl who falls prey to her expectations in THE RUINING, an unsettling suspense novel about the power of manipulation and how necessary it is to have strength of self.
"THE RUINING absorbs you equally in finding out the mysterious Cohens' secrets as it does in Annie's breakdown, and that (along with Annie's sweet, if tumultuous, romance with her neighbor), makes the book a must-read."
When Annie Phillips is accepted into San Francisco State University and hired as a nanny for the wealthy Cohen family, she thinks all her dreams have come true. She will be able to escape her dreary life in Detroit, where she lives with her alcoholic mother and stepfather, and start a whole new life out west, where the coastline stretches for miles. The Cohens appear to be perfect: fashionable, uptight Libby; easygoing, doting Walker; adorable Zoe and Jackson. But appearances can be deceiving, and as Annie becomes more ensconced with the Walkers --- especially Libby --- old (literal) ghosts and insecurities begin to haunt her, and she has trouble accepting that this new life she's stepped into might be far more dangerous than the one she left behind.
To say any more would ruin the fascinating dynamics the book sets up between Libby and Annie, as well as its intense depiction of Annie's fraying sanity. Anna Collomore, the author, worked as a live-in nanny herself and she does a wonderful job creating a nightmare version of the relationship between a nanny and her employers, which is somewhere between being counted as a member of the family and being thought of as the help. In fact, at times THE RUINING was almost too cringe-inducing to read because Annie's predicament was written incredibly realistically; however, the book always pulled me back in. For, though THE RUINING is a great psychological thriller, it is also a cautionary coming-of-age tale about the perils of great expectations. In Annie's mind, the Cohen's have the life she has always dreamed of, and she would do anything to keep her place in their world, even as she begins to realize they may not be all they seem.
THE RUINING absorbs you equally in finding out the mysterious Cohens' secrets as it does in Annie's breakdown, and that (along with Annie's sweet, if tumultuous, romance with her neighbor), makes the book a must-read.
Reviewed by Erin Allen on January 14, 2013