Friday, January 4, 2013

The Ruining by Anna Collomore

Annie moves cross-country from Detroit to beautiful Belvedere Island in San Francisco.  She is more than happy to leave behind her alcoholic mother and stepfather for the opportunity to go to college and be a nanny.  When she arrives she is immediately taken with the Cohens, especially young mother Libby who showers Annie with attention, advice and expensive cast-off clothing.  Annie also begins her first romance with the handsome, young web entreprenuer next door.  But slowly Annie's perfect world begins to show some cracks.  Libby blows hot and cold, sometimes accusing Annie of doing or saying things she doesn't even remember.  The door on Annie's bedroom is removed and she has no privacy.  Libby often expects Annie to work at times she wasn't expecting and Annie's school work begins to suffer.  And sometimes Libby grills Annie about her relationship with her boyfriend, asking highly inappropriate questions, implying that Annie ought not trust him.  This book does an amazing job of keeping the reader every bit as unsure of what is happening as Annie is.  I was pretty sure that Libby was "Gaslight-ing" Annie but there were enough other things happening to keep me uncertain, especially because I couldn't figure out exactly what her motive would be (although there were enough clues planted in the text to work out a few of the surprises).  Annie's descent is convincing because it comes about bit by bit with her questioning more and more of her own beliefs.  Her adoration of Libby, while frustrating, is also explained because of Annie's background.  A really unsettling, but compelling read!  My complaint with the book, however, is the ending.  After such painstaking work leading Annie and the reader into madness, the resolution came about much too quickly.  I was happy with all that was revealed and how Annie ultimately ended up, but it all came about much less thoughtfully than what preceded it.