Thursday, July 31, 2008

freaky green eyes by Joyce Carol Oates

I was mistaken in yesterday's post about having missed all of Oates books since 1996. I had been looking only at her list of novels for grown-ups and this book was in the list for YA. But I shouldn't have needed to see the title in that list to remember as my niece is currently reading it and we had been talking about it just last weekend. I not only read this about three years ago, I wrote this tiny review at the time. It was buried in my folder of book reviews. I may have even posted it tho without putting the title in the title of the post and thus can't find it in my archives.

freaky green eyes
By Joyce Carol Oates
Harper Tempest
© 2003

Genre: Literary; Young Adult; Coming of Age; Domestic violence; Psychological abuse; Mothers and daughters; Fathers and daughters

Her mother called her Francesca and her Father called her Franky. But shortly after her fourteenth birthday she discovered an alter ego she called ‘freaky green eyes’ which came into being when she was under extreme duress. ‘freaky green eyes’ rescued her from imminent rape by an older boy who hurled the sobriquet at her after she had kneed his groin and bit, kicked and scratched her way out from under him.

She took it as a badge of honor but one for an audience of one: herself. She told no one of the incident. Not even her parents. Which was probably due, more than anything else, to the fact that just then the tensions in the Pierson household were high and she could sense that both parents had enough on their minds right then. Also her mother had started spending more and more time out of the house, timing her visits home to coincide with Franky’s Father’s out-of-town stints as a famous sports castor personality.

‘freaky green eyes’ served Franky over the next year as a wellspring of courage, as a truth detector and as a source of strength and competence she had no idea she had been capable of before. And just in time too. For Franky’s family was disintegrating in a storm of violence and deceit and crafty manipulation of the children’s emotions and loyalties. Though of course not without leaving intact the careful fa├žade that preserved the family’s social status and her father’s prestigious career and celebrity status. Not, that is, until ’freaky green eyes’ made public the lies and spoke truth to power. Thereby loosing much that hadn’t already been wrested from her but gaining her integrity and safety, at long last, for herself and her younger sister.

Though this story has been targeted at the young-adult audience, it is not written down to that audience. All staunch Joyce Carol Oates fans will recognize the gritty plot and the smooth prose.

3 tell me a story:

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