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Book Review: We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

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I spent four months reading a book I picked up on a whim by one of the few authors I've previously supported on different whims. In junior high, I hastily chose a young-adult fiction called "Freaky Green Eyes" by Joyce Carol Oates. A day at Waldenbooks with my family is quizzical and somewhat vexing if you figure the book you chose was a waste. However, I neither enjoyed the book or was displeased by it. By my short-term memory, it was just choppy like a diary and too confusing for my distracted, eighth-grade-verging mindset. Above my foibles, the plot was a good one, and I did like the prose that was new and impressive and understandable to me. It was nearly a coming-of-age for me because when I finished it, I contiguously began becoming attracted to Chaim Potok and Agatha Cristie. At the beginning of sophomore year, I came across this Oates again and finished another one of her fictions called Sexy. It was well-done, still a bit choppy like a log, but all the more well done. I felt like I was in the mind of this teenage boy, experiencing what he really felt toward the female students and the accused male teacher. He was almost a protagonist and I would have enjoyed that role but not all characters can be expectant and perfect. As sexist as it sounds, he only had a male flaw and it was perfectly fine.

I didn't discover her affirming endowment until I checked We Were the Mulvaneys out before Christmas vacation this year. Books based upstate are always an attraction because I’m interested in references to my Connecticut home state, and I wanted to challenge myself by reading a vast novel. I always allow myself a month to complete any novel. After three delinquent notices for my two-month hold of the novel, I was fascinated by her usage of fragments, her tangling imagery, her characterization, and the plot that held it all. I felt like I was bluntly in the minds of these siblings and understood them so. I was, of course, frustrated by the time limit that impatiently waned in my absorption of her masterpiece. Above interpretation, I became more focused on finishing it for the sake of my school and the time so stretched it was ridiculous. After I returned it to my school’s library, I have seen Oates' name posted as similar search results and on website of The New Yorker. The concurrence had been all but natural. Joyce Carol Oates has become one of my favorite authors, especially since she’s read copious prose, the right way to become educated on creative writing, and since she’s, well, skilled.

The only thing to complete my exposure to her own literature is to watch the TV-movie that portrayed it. Only I can’t even find the commercial for it.

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About Sarah Estime

Sarah Estime is an aircraft mechanic in the United States Air Force. When she is not working her day job, she is composing works related to young adult, humor, and experimental drama. She has been published by the "African American Review," Canadian literary magazine "What If?" and photography litmag "BurnerMag."