Clare at Sixteen by Don Roff – A Book Review

Clare Marie Bleecker is just like every other sixteen-year-old girl, full of hope and dreams and thoughts of boys…also, she’s a serial killer.

Living with her grandparents, Clare goes to the local Catholic school and she only kills those who deserve it. Men who would drive by and try to pick up young girls, for instance. She’s good at heart, she’s a vegan, loves animals and kills people. Hey, everyone has their own problems, right?

Except Clare’s problems are just beginning. Pickman Flats is a small town known for its wineries. Dead bodies tend to stick out. When the body of a man is found, a witness says that they saw a young girl in a DeFeo Catholic High School uniform walking away from the car and that young girl matches Clare’s description. Just because she killed the guy doesn’t make her guilty, though.

Soon, the police are everywhere she is. They question Clare and her friends at school, but Clare keeps cool. She knows that it was really other Clare that took over so she feels no guilt over what she did. Clare has other things to worry about. She has auditions for a play, has to avoid the popular bitch brigade, spend time with her friend Julie and wonder if anything will ever happen with Wade or Truman. She’s just a regular high school girl, except for the fact that she kills people.

Then her world gets turned upside down. She spots a guy who looks exactly like the man she killed earlier and he’s driving the same car. She follows him to his house and knows that it holds secrets she needs answers to. Clare has no idea that her problems are about to get so much worse.

She must remember the cardinal rule: slay responsibly…

I loved everything about this book. When I picked it up, I thought I would read about a typical sixteen-year-old girl, but there is nothing typical about Clare. The serial killing aside, she is surprisingly deep and so reasonable when she’s talking to you. This is not a Hannibal Lector psycho who shows no remorse. This is a girl with deep feelings and deep emotions. I was so impressed by Don Roff’s writing. I started the book expecting not to like her, but I actually rooted for her and wanted her to get away with what she was done. She’s a killer with a conscience.

Don Roff is also skilled at creating characters that are so real. You’d think that Clare at Sixteen would hold all the stereotypical characters like the jocks and the dorky best friend and the popular girls. It does…but not in the way you think. Roff gives everyone enough screen time so that they defy the stereotypes and become their own people. I really admire that skill in a novel that’s set in and around a high school. The world that Roff created around Clare came alive. I grew up in suburbia and he’s brought it to life brilliantly.

Told in rapid fire chapters, Calre at Sixteen just pulls you in and doesn’t let go. I think what is so wonderful about Clare at Sixteen is the humanness about it. Clare is a killer that I actually cared for. She is a character and a killer with undeniable depth and wonderful taste in music. I wanted her to succeed and perhaps even to thrive. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I am waiting eagerly for the next book in the series.  

Until then, slay responsibly…

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