Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates

I've never been a huge JC Oates fan and I'm not really sure why. I think it's because she writes short stories a lot and I'm not a big fan of that genre; however, when I look at the list of her novels, there are definitely books listed that I loved when I read and would read again.
That said, this is definitely my favorite Oates book. The main character is extremely well-developed, the book deals eloquently, and what I think must be very realistically, with immigrant families and their children, and overall the book brings to life in a very thorough way the America of World War II era from the point of view of a Jewish girl, who is so ashamed of her Jewishness that she spends her life hiding it.
My only complaint about the book is that I didn't like the epilogue. I felt like it was too long and really would have preferred the book to end without it. It was almost as if Oates originally had the idea for what happens in the epilogue and when she never reached it in the novel, she decided to tack it on at the end. You'll see if you read the book. I'd certainly love to hear anyone's thoughts on the ending. Some of the ideas that came out were very raw and truthful, but I just didn't like the manner in which they were delivered.
Overall, a great summer read, and a book that I continue to think about- certainly one of my criteria for quality books.

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