Sunday, September 14, 2014

Carthage | Joyce Carol Oates

I have not read this author before, but based on the strength of this book, I will definitively read more of her work.

This is a story that took me by surprise because it tackles a girl's disappearance in a way I have not read about elsewhere. We are introduced to a seemingly 'normal 'family, in the town of Carthage. It comprises of two daughters and two parents. the older daughter is thought of as the nice, clever one, beautiful one and the younger daughter, as special and plain. As a reader I thought she has autistic traits or is on the spectrum at least. She is a gifted artist but her view of and interpretation of the world around her is somewhat off.
The older daughter is engaged to a soldier, who upon returning from Iraq, is damaged physically and emotionally. He is deeply changed and rejects the unconditional love shown him.

The family breaks apart when the younger daughter disappears. There is no trace of her after she is seen leave a local bar and the main suspect is the young soldier. So far, so much like any other novel. Read on. I won't tell you what happens next, but it is a novel full of surprises.

The author very skilfully explores issues of identity, family, veterans returning who are damaged in many ways, and whether it is possible to fully love and fully forgive. I highly recommend this novel and will seek out more by this talented author.

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