You Know What You Have to Do

You Know What You Have to Do

3.5 2
by Bonnie Shimko

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You do not kill a man in cold blood and then talk your way out of it.

Other than her real name—Mary-Magdalene Feigenbaum—fifteen-year-old Maggie’s problems seem ordinary. She has tiffs with her too-critical mother, a crush on her cute psychologist, and worries that her only friend—fellow outcast Abigail—is morphing into a popular girl,


You do not kill a man in cold blood and then talk your way out of it.

Other than her real name—Mary-Magdalene Feigenbaum—fifteen-year-old Maggie’s problems seem ordinary. She has tiffs with her too-critical mother, a crush on her cute psychologist, and worries that her only friend—fellow outcast Abigail—is morphing into a popular girl, leaving her behind.

But Maggie has a few not-so-ordinary problems. A voice in her head is telling her to kill. And not just anyone. Each time the target is a person who has done something terrible to someone Maggie cares for. You know what you have to do, the voice commands. Maggie struggles to resist, but the voice is relentless. And as its demands escalate, her world begins to crumble.

With rising suspense, this story of psychological horror introduces a narrator whose own unique voice and irreverent humor are unforgettable—an unlikely hero fighting a desperate battle against incomprehensible evil.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Greta Holt
Maggie has a problem. She is a nice girl with a highly evolved sense of justice...and a voice in her head that tells her to kill people. The voice also gives her migraines. Maggie struggles with normal teen problems: her mother is silly and most kids at school are not worth the effort. Abigail, Maggie's best friend, turns to the popular kids then wants to come running back to Maggie when things go wrong. Lester, her guy friend, wants to date her but she does not feel the same way. She does care for him, though, so she burns his abusive father to death. Two positives in Maggie's life are her stepfather, who is a fine father figure—Maggie's real father is in prison for killing his own mother—and her therapist Dr. Scott, whom she dreams of marrying. At first, the voice in Maggie's head directs her to eliminate bad people, thus fulfilling her sense of justice. But, when the voice tries to get her to kill a squalling baby and to crash her car, she is truly frightened. As if battling for her mind is not enough, a blackmailer who has seen her kill, approaches her, a conceited new boy paws her on a date, and she finds herself compelled to meet her jailed father. In Maggie, Shimko creates a dark and quirky character, similar to television's Dexter. But from the time Maggie meets her father and discovers that he is innocent of the murder and that her own grandmother heard voices, too, the story gains depth, while managing to keep its original tone. The sudden death of Maggie's beloved stepfather throws her into insanity. She must fight her way back and discover how to control and live productively with the voice in her head. Reviewer: Greta Holt
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Shimko's book is billed as a psychological horror story, but readers will be torn between shaking with fear at the frightening parts and laughing at the absurd scenarios that don't quite succeed. Mary-Magdalene Feigenbaum, 15, describes why and how she killed her neighbor Lester's abusive father. She seems nonplussed about what she did except that she left a lighter with her mother's initials at the scene of the crime and is worried that she might get caught. She then murders another man by pushing him to his death and yet another by bludgeoning him with a rock. Maggie decides to do these deeds because of the voice in her head that says, "You know what you have to do." The men she kills are not sympathetic characters, but the voice also tells her to hurt innocent people. Maggie, whose father is in jail for killing his mother, has nightmares, so her mother sends her to a therapist, but the teen refuses to let on about what is really bothering her. Maggie goes about her normal routine, attending school, visiting with her best friend, hanging with her dog and stepfather. Then there is this other gruesome side of her life where she kills people. The ending offers only a slight redemption for the protagonist. In the times in which we live, it is impossible to recommend a story in which a teenager who kills three people ends with her reflecting on how she truly is a good person.—Elizabeth Kahn, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, Jefferson, LA
Kirkus Reviews
Fifteen-year-old Maggie, or Mary-Magdalene, as her flaky young mother Roxanne optimistically christened her, hears a didactic male voice inside her head instructing her precisely how and when to kill individuals who have wronged her friends. Maggie is compelled to obey the orders, and the murders come thick and fast. The first casualty is the abusive drunk father of her childhood friend and admirer, a nerdy boy named Lester Pint. Lester witnesses the (separate) murders of his father and an armed woodsman whom Maggie pushes off a cliff while they are on a nature walk, and he barely escapes being drowned in his own pool when the voice tells Maggie Lester may expose her crimes. By some miracle, she is never actually convicted of these inept and clue-laden murders. She does, however, suffer enough remorse to land in a mental hospital. Maggie has a checkered personal history to contend with. She describes herself flippantly as "the bastard memento a red-headed jackass named Lonnie Kraft left behind after he got tired of my mother's affection." On a visit to her father in prison, Maggie discovers that he is innocent of the murder of his deranged mother and that his mother heard voices in her head, just like Maggie. Maggie's affectless first-person narration gives readers a front-row seat to her every thought. It's a fast-moving tale with an engagingly complex protagonist, but it suffers from its credibility issues. (Thriller. 12-17)

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Bonnie Shimko is a former teacher and the author of several novels, including The Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye, a 2011 ALA Best Book for Young Adults and Letters in the Attic, winner of the Lambda Literary Award. She lives in Plattsburgh, New York.

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You Know What You Have to Do 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
BailsChris More than 1 year ago
You know, I've never been the type of person to like or even read a horror book. In fact I frequently avoid them like the plague. But I decided that I would try this one out and see what I thought of it. Even though it's not my cup of tea, I actually thought it was a decent read and this is coming from someone who thoroughly hates all horror books. So that must mean its good then, right? I'll say this, the title is creepy enough as it is. You Know What You Have to Do by Bonnie Shimko is the creepy tale of Mary-Magdalene, a girl who can hear voices in her head. Typically we associate voices in our head as the kind that tells us to be better or do better but this one is different. This voice wants something dark and sinister from Maggie. It wants her to kill people and even if they are "bad" people, it still doesn't seem right for her to kill them. But when she refuses, her head begins to pound until the point that she can't think straight and the only thoughts in her head are the relentless voice urging her to do awful things. At first the killings seem to be meant to help other people out and then something snaps. Even the most innocent, a baby, is being subjected to the voice's constant presence of murder. Is no one safe? It sure seems that way. The plot itself is unique and intriguing, even if it is increasingly getting creepier with each turn of the page. It's honestly a beautifully complex story that the author has created and I applaud how well she has done in making a unique plot. The writing style of the story is honestly well thought out and gives this eery feeling to the words that seem to just jump off the page. A haunting feeling resonates with the story. The words linger with you long after the story is completed. The plot twists are so well designed that they are as unsettling as the plot itself. It's crazy. Maggie is the main character of the story and I'm still trying to decide whether she is crazy or if the voice is legitimately there. She is a strong character with a willful personality which is why she refuses to ever accept what the voice tells her right off the bat. I admire her strength against the people and the things she faces. Even though I don't like horrors, I do like her character because she is very relatable and that's probably what made her story hard to read. I connected with her, only to have her suffer.  Roxie is the mother that nobody wants and yet some people are unlucky enough to have. Controlling and scatterbrained are two words that should never be associated with mothers and yet that is what fits her to a 'T'. Harry who is her stepfather is the bright spot of the story. Unlike pop culture's perception of stepfathers, he seems to be a genuinely nice guy and the outcome of his story was really disappointing. Sadly it was not surprising either. Her birth father was a character that I wished was better explored and I actually wanted to know more about him. He seemed like an interesting character that could've had a story of his own. You know the creepy boy next door? The one that you are sure is peeping through your windows? Yeah, that's Lester. He goes beyond the puppy dog unrequited crush and turns into a controlling stalker that I wanted to strangle. If anyone was crazy in this story, it would definitely be him. I was sad to see her friend, Abigail, become something that she wasn't. It quickly became real that this best friend wasn't so great after all. I've always hated the sort of friends that are like Abigail and the author's portrayal of her character was very real. Jacob is the crush that seems to dominate the first quarter of the book. He seemed to be the sort of guy that everyone liked and just based on how he acted, I probably would've had a crush on him. It turns out that he isn't a great guy after all. You'll find out why. This story is a constant game of whether someone is really who they say they are. Do you trust someone completely? Should you, even after knowing them for years? This book makes you question everything, including yourself.
nicoleandbooks More than 1 year ago
In You Know What You Have to Do Maggie is just like every other teenager, except for the fact that she hears a voice in her head. This voice tell her to do horrible things and she has no idea why this is happening to her, but she plans to figure it out. This was an interesting book and definitely an original story idea, however the pace was slow at times and I occasionally found Maggie to be annoying. I think getting into the story was the hardest part but after I had read about 30% of the book I started really enjoying it.  There were a couple times in the book where the writing felt choppy and that kind of pulled me out of the story, but thats no excuse to not go and pick up your own copy of You Know What You Have to Do. It’s a refreshing read that has nothing to do with vampires or love triangles and it sure to give you chills whenever the voice says “You Know What You Have to Do”. Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book through Net Galley