Review: Caring is Creepy by David Zimmerman

Published by Soho Press
Released April 3, 2012
336 pages
Where I got it: E-galley received from publisher via NetGalley
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Description (from Goodreads):

Fifteen-year-old Lynn Marie Sugrue is doing her best to make it through a difficult summer. Her mother works long hours as a nurse, and Lynn suspects that her mother’s pill-popping boyfriend has enlisted her in his petty criminal enterprises. Lynn finds refuge in online flirtations, eventually meeting up with a troubled young soldier, Logan Loy, and inviting him home. When he’s forced to stay over in a storage space accessible through her closet, and the Army subsequently lists him as AWOL, she realizes that he’s the one thing in her life that she can control. Meanwhile, her mother’s boyfriend is on the receiving end of a series of increasingly violent threats, which places Lynn squarly in the cross-hairs.

Caring is Creepy was a strange, dark book about bad people in worse situations. Many times while reading, I considered putting the book down and walking away from it, much like some of the characters should have done with the problems in their lives. However, just like the frustrating characters in this book, I kept going, no matter how bad it felt for me, because I wanted to see how everything would turn out.

The main character of the story, Lynn Marie, has problems. Her father left, and her mother pays little attention to her because she is too wrapped up in her boyfriends. Lynn finds refuge from the boredom of her life at her friend Dani’s house. There, they play a game of making up fake personas and messing with people in internet sex chat rooms. One day, instead of playing the game, Lynn reveals her real name to somebody in the chat room, who turns out to be a 25 year old soldier on a nearby base. Although he’s suffering from PTSD, Logan has been stop lossed by the military, and he is itching to get out.

Meanwhile, Lynn’s mother’s boyfriend has gotten into deep trouble with the local drug lords. After witnessing a horrific episode, Lynn knows that Hayes is in deep, deep enough to get killed. Lynn’s mother also may or may not be involved. It turns out that Hayes’ troubles will affect everybody around him, including Lynn.

There were many times when my heart seemed to stop while I was reading. This book was truly scary for me, on a deep level, because I know that so many of the terrible things that happen in this book happen in real life, and that is the scariest thing of all. Looking at Lynn and her boredom, I think back and know that if I hadn’t had such good parents who were active in my life, it would have been easy to get into trouble like Lynn. That said, she’s pretty crazy as well. The loss of her father hurt her deeply, so that when she has an older man who is affectionate, she locks him up and makes it so that he is her prisoner. Add to that Logan’s AWOL status and the statutory rape, and he’s really at Lynn’s mercy.

Caring is Creepy is a totally messed up book involving drugs, neglect, and abuse. Nobody is innocent in its pages, and some will not be able to get through reading it. However, Zimmerman has written a story that had a powerful impact on me, and presents much for the reader to think about.

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