The Perfect Nanny // review

"The baby was dead. It took only a few seconds." 

Whatever faults this book may have, it definitely had a gut-punching opening.  

The bright blue cover, the title, nothing gives away the dark secret, the twisting and writhing psychology that fills every page of this book. 
When I purchased The Perfect Nanny, I expected drama; the synopsis boasts of jealousy, resentment, and tensions, so perhaps an affair? 
Nothing prepared me for the first line, the first page which proclaimed a death before it had even begun.  What followed was a murder mystery unlike any other I have read.  Not a "Who done it" but a "Why did she do it" question that ever loomed through every page....and honestly? I'm not completely sure if it was answered.

Warning: Review DOES contain spoilers.


When Myriam, a mother and brilliant French-Moroccan lawyer decides to return to work, she and her husband are forced to look for a caretaker for their two young children.  They are thrilled to find Louise: the perfect nanny right from the start. Louise sings to the children, cleans the family's beautiful apartment in Paris' upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late whenever asked, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependant on each other, jealousy, resentment and frustrations amount, shattering the idyllic tableau. 

What I Didn't Like: 
  • Without having to puzzle together who committed the murder, the book had a sole purpose; leading you to realize why the murder had been committed. Instead, after closing the book, I was left with a vague sense of almost understanding. Louise was jealousy, that much was clear. She was a woman who had been worked and stepped over all her life. Louise was nothing more than a rug for other's to wipe their feet on and cast out when they were done with her.  But I didn't fully understand how that led her to murder two children who she had, earlier in the book, adored. While perhaps the twist of mental illness might have made sense to a psychologist, to an average reader, it felt too complex, too far-fetched. 
  • The book spared no punches when it came to its cast of characters.  In this book, there are no angels and there are no demons either.  Everyone had skeletons in their closet and everyone had their moments of goodness.  That being said, there were very few times when the people in this book were actually likable.  The depiction of them was too rough, too careless and too robotic in its emotions and there was no chance of bonding with anyone. As such, there wasn't much emotional punch in the end (except for Adam. I bonded to Adam, but he's a baby. Whats there to not bond to?)
  • Above all others, I loathed Paul. His fatherhood wasn't just sloppy, so was his marriage skills. Myriam voiced multiple concerns to him about Louise's actions. Mother intuition was not to be denied, and yet each time he calmed and placated her and made Myriam feel like she was overreacting. Instead of supporting his wife, he seemed to almost take Louise's side in many of Myriam's concerns (which made no sense, as he didn't seem to really like Louise even to start with).  Instead of siding with Myriam's founded concerns regarding Louise, he disliked her for petty things...like how she was so pale, white and thin. 
  • Louise herself was a massive puzzle. She was difficult and petty, she showed signs of being mentally disturbed...but to the point of murdering two children? I didn't see that anywhere. Like I said earlier, perhaps it would be more evident to someone who is a professional and trained to see the hints, but to the average reader, she didn't seem like the murdering sort (aside from that one weird flashback where she beat her daughter. but even then, beating someone and purposefully committing murder are very, very different things). 
  • The plot jumped around an awful lot. One minute, we are in the present, with the police captain going over evidence and interrogating possibly witnesses, then the next, we are in the past, with Louise faithfully caring for the Masses' children, and then we go back further, to Louise's own troubled past. Like a pinball, the author took us all over the place, never allowing us a moment to rest on a linear plotline.  While this was undoubtedly intentional, it also resulted in an inability for me to fully grasp the gravity of what was happening and when it was happening. 

What I Did Like: 

  • The writing was truly magnificent. Slimani wove words as a goddess would weave gold. Particularly her descriptions of human bodies, even bodies people would normally skip over, commanded attention and gaze.  It is a skill to both turn people into something whole, physical, beautiful and ugly all within one or two sentences. This is something I have to give over to the translator as well (the book was originally published in French and has just been translated). 
  • Included in that, it is rare you find a book which depicts children truly well. Usually, the author fringes on too innocent, or too childish. Instead, Silmani wrote Mina and Adam with just as much poise, mind, and soul as the adults (if not more, since the children were the only ones I almost bonded to and the children felt like real people, more so than even the adults). 
  • The setting was written in a way that only someone who had breathed its air, walked the streets and lived a life in Paris could have ever written it.  American authors glamorize Paris, but The Perfect Nanny felt like it was set in a Paris I had never seen, and yet fondly yearned for. Dingy, greasy cafe's, bustling crowds in train stations, and neighborhood parks gave a surprisingly urban and unmagical glance into Paris. Slimani, a French native, would be familiar with Paris in a way American authors simply cannot be, and this shown through in her work. I really have to say, the setting was one of my most favorite aspects of this book. 
  • Despite a plot that followed no linear line, but skipped all over the place, the plot never once bored me.  Like reading a journal or private diary, the novel kept your rapt and scandalized attention all the way to the end.  Truthfully, the book was utterly personal to its cast of characters, and reading it felt like a look into a completely private set of lives. 
  • As mentioned before, the plot did not follow a traditional murder novel plot. It told you, up front, who was the murderer and worked on the 'why' instead of the 'who'. It was a refreshing change!

In summary, while this was an entertaining and grasping read, the end did not fulfill itself quite as I wish.  I feel like there were gaps in the storytelling, and the book focused more on being artistic and beautiful (which it was), rather than making complete sense.  While this made for a flowing read, it did not make for a very satisfying story, at least for me.  It was a quick read, and Silmani's depictions of a family that is both dysfunctional and loving was refreshing.  I also enjoyed the twist, in that we knew who killed the family, but not the probable reason for the murder.  With that being said...I still don't fully grasp Louise's reason for murdering the children; the book did not make it entirely clear.  Whether that is a purposeful intent of the author, an error in translating, or simply a point going over my head, I'm unclear. 



twenty-two years of bloom

When you are younger, there are balloons. There are the days of wrapped presents decorating the side table in the living room and the staunch, "no snooping!" as a new one is left.
There are whole weeks of eagerness, of telling everyone, "Fourteen more days!" and counting down each one the moment your eyes open in the morning.
Planning your cake, making a wish list, and pretending to not overhear whispered secrets and plans.
When you are younger, your birthday is no less more important, but it is more....festive.

I turned twenty-two today.
It isn't a big deal, not like being sixteen, or twenty-one. There are no great societal landmarks being passed with this birthday, no permit I'm looking forward to obtaining. This birthday just is.
So, with the grand ages of being young and having new experiences being opened to me now past (whats the next goal? Turning 40-something so I can reach the age where I can legally run for president??), I think there is no better birthday to just exist than this one.

The day is still young, but I have already been up since 3 am. You see, when you are an adult, you don't get as much special treatment on your birthday as you did when you were a kid. As such, I still had work to do and I happened to be scheduled on a very, very early morning shift (5 am - 9 am), which really did test my limits of wakefulness for the majority of my shift.  I think I had two coworkers say "Good morning!" only to be initially ignored by me for thirty seconds until my brain fog allowed me to respond back.

A lot has changed since I first entered my twenties, and yet....nothing has really, truly changed.
When I turned 20, I was working for a newspaper as a community/front page reporter. It was a job I had gotten by chance...and I loved it. Since that birthday, I have moved, left my newspaper job for a daycare job (not by choice, but rather caused by the move), left the toxic environment of the daycare job for my current retail position, and now, within the next two weeks, I will again be employed by a newspaper, causing everything to come a full circle. 

Just, let me say, getting back into journalism was completely unforeseen and unexpected by me! It happened really by complete chance and, its a godsend. I cannot be more excited with how everything is turning back and I'm being allowed a second chance at a job I truly, deeply, am passionate about. Be prepared to hear a lot of posts regarding this topic in the future! 

I have developed a lot of new views, some that differ from my family, some that don't, and I have become more of myself. 

I have made new friends through coworkers, online connections and I have found my heart in a city I once wasn't certain of. I've explored in order to find little nooks in which to lose myself and tiny cafes in which I pen all my words.

I am two years into my twenties, I don't feel nearly as "grown up" as I thought I would have, but the truth is, I don't think I'd want to. I don't think I ever want to.

All of my life, I have been a flower looking for the sun, turning towards the light, and spreading deep and strong my roots.  Some years, the light has been scarce and the growth stunted. Looking back, some years have been more of withering years than growing years, but even that, in turn, has given me the strength to be hardier, stronger, and grow more resolved in future years.
Like a flower, I've bloomed, and I am still blooming.  To finish blooming, to reach the end, is not so much a goal or a journey, but an eventual process and time that I will eventually reach.

Until then, I'll bloom slowly. I'll find more about myself, I will reach up, towards the warm light, and spread my roots into the soil I am planted.

On the twenty-second year of my life, I propose to never be adult enough, to never finish blooming, not until my petals are complete and the light has been reached.

Photo by Lizzie on Unsplash


Spring Starts In January // 1.18 wrap up

In Florida, Spring does not start in the months following February. Rather, you can often see the beginnings of spring happening towards the end of January. 

Right now, in the second day of February, I'm sitting wearing no coat at an outdoor patio of my favorite cafe. A blooming (though, a bit lackluster) flowering plant right beside me, and I can hear seagulls whistle to each other, even though I'm nowhere near a coastline (in the cooler months when people no longer densely populate the beaches, seagulls tend to move inland in order to continue bumming food from people. Florida seagulls are lazy birds). 
I'm not overly fond of Florida. I don't care much at all for the heat, the humidity or the shortness of cool weather.  The hurricanes are troublesome, and we still, frequently get tornados too (did you know that a hurricane can actually spit out tornados along its storm edge? yeah, it can, and it's terrifying. Like, can't we just, have one and not have to worry about the other at the same time??)

But there is something fond about our early, bumbling spring. It doesn't come all at once. We'll continue getting cold snaps for a few months still, and planting anything that is not extremely cold hardy isn't usually recommended. But in January, you start to see peaks of blooming greens and pinks return after December made everything brown and brittle. 
The New Year opens for us, and the greenness of new life starts returning all at the same time...it's almost magical. 

January Third:

It snowed! It actually snowed in Florida (not all of it). While not everyone got to witness the incredible and unprecedented act of fluffy white stuff coming down, I was able to spot a couple minutes of pretty intense flurries before heading in for work (and caught it on video so I could flaunt it at my friends who, while they only lived an hour or so to the west, didn't get to see any Florida Snow at all). It was quite literally the sole conversation for everyone I interacted with that day, and I heard from a good many people who said that it had actually settled up to an inch on the ground before noon (when the sun climbed high enough and everything melted in true Florida fashion). 

Books Bought: 

I did not finish any books in January (someone, please, I need a shame squad if I don't finish at least one in February). 
However, I did add The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo and The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace to my collection via winning them in a giveaway (do giveaways count? I didn't buy them so I don't think it counts) and I bought The Perfect Nanny by Leila Silmani. 
Honestly, I'm probably going to finish The Perfect Nanny within the next few days, as it has me entirely spellbound. I bought it not at all aware that it was a murder mystery.  When I was younger, I devoured murder novels (Agatha Christy was MY GIRL) but I've gotten out of the genre because either I know too soon who'dun'it, or I don't know at all and the author made me purposefully feel like a fool by making it go unnoticed and I just don't like the feeling of realizing the author didn't want me to be able to figure it out on my own.
However, The Perfect Nanny tells you who the murderer is; right from the first page, it is completely obvious who brought the death about.
The mystery comes in you trying to figure out why. It's a delicious dive into hidden ques, the subconscious and the stress between employer and employee. 

I Bought A Snake:

You heard it right, folks! 
I completed my transition into being totally and completely Slytherin by adding a scaley-baby to my pet list. 

He (I don't actually know, 100% that he is a he. I could figure out how to sex him myself, but the act requires essentially a lot of sticking my fingers into places most animals do not like having fingers stuck, and as I don't ever plan to do any breeding, I don't think it's very important. So I'm calling him a he and hoping I haven't caused the poor snake any offense) is a one and a half foot Ball Python named Monty.  Actually, Monty "Pep" Python. Because I think I'm hilarious (and the "Pep" comes from my friends. Who insisted I should name him Pepto Abysmal and when I refused, they refused to acknowledge my refusal so...Pep. Pep happened).  He is actually my first snake, although my brothers used to have a massive Corn Snake named Corn Pops (omg we are the cheesiest).  I didn't realize just how complex Ball Pythons are. I, naturally did a ton of research and reading, so I know my stuff, but it never really prepares you for how bratty and reclusive your Ball Python is actually going to be.  I bought him a hiding rock, and basically, he refuses to ever leave it without giving me an attitude. Also, he sleeps, a lot. Like, he can honestly go three days without ever leaving his rock and still acts grumpy when I wake him up. 
Ball Pythons are also surprisingly gentle, though. After getting over his "I've been woken up and I'm not pleased" grumps, Monty is as docile as a lamb. He lets my younger siblings pet his head, hold him, and he has never seemed stressed out by multiple little hands. 10/10 would recommend if anyone wants to start with a snake that is a brat but a good brat. 

Coffee and Writing:

My primary New Years resolution was to rejuvenate my interests. It had been awhile since I had honestly written in my novels (and didn't feel like I was forcing myself into it), even longer since I had written any letters and almost 500 years since I had journaled my life in my private journals.  All of those things are vastly important to me and since I hadn't done them, willingly, for so long, I was beginning to feel like a shell of myself. So I pledged to do all of them more, even if it meant breaking my usual rut and purposefully setting aside time for those things. 
So, I've been frequenting my favorite coffee shop in order to get in the mood and mindset of writing. It's getting so bad, that the other day, I ordered a Coconut Latte instead of my usual Cinnamon-Cinnamon Latte (Cinnamon syrup and cinnamon powder sprinkled on top of the foam) that the barista looked at me funny and asked if I was sure. "That's not your usual," she mentioned, skeptically, "I know...I just kinda thought I'd change it up, keep ya'll on your toes," I said, sheepishly. "Fair enough!" She chirped right back. 
You know you go places a lot when the workers not only have your face memorized but your usual order too. 
It has been working, though. I'm nowhere near groundbreaking on the writing front, yet, but I've written three letters, two chapters and multiple pages inside my journal, which is so much more than I had been putting out and I'm pleased with that. 

First Bar:

Disclaimer: I am 21. I've been 21 for almost a year now, and I drink. Not obsessively, or anything, but I do love a good fruity cocktail or a bubbly beer. 
I have never, however, been to an actual legit bar. 
That changed this month. It's a long story how I ended up there, but basically, me and my parents were going to a trivia night (The Office trivia night. I was so ready) at another bar, only to find out that the place was packed. Like, there was no standing room. It was insane. So, we chose to leave, but rather than waste our night out (we were all dressed up, after all), we decided to visit another close by bar/lounge that was smaller and less populated. 
The place, called The Fox and The Stag, was cozy, private and perfectly aesthetic. It breathed a sort of Lord of the Rings charm and had an amazing selection of on tap beers (as well as a cocktail called The Sly Fox, which is what I got, that was full of blackberry taste and absinthe).  It might seem odd to have your first bar be introduced to you by your parents, but we actually had a blast together and I would definitely do it again. 

There were lots of smaller, less magnificent events that happened during January, most of them work or family related (that takes, like, 75% of my time), and not all of them were good.  I was plenty stressed, plenty frustrated and not everything is bubbly and cheery. But all in all, January was a great month for starting off 2018, and I'm looking forward to February.

What about you? Did you do anything interesting in January? Experience anything new? Read new books? I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment telling me about it, or if you did a wrap-up post, let me know and I'll definitely pop on over to read it!

First Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash