After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away
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After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  925 ratings  ·  119 reviews
In the raw was how the world felt now. My feelings were raw, my thoughts were raw and hurtful like knife blades. . . . In the blue had been my place to hide, now In the raw there was nowhere to hide. Jenna Abbott separates her life into two categories: "before the wreck" and "after the wreck," Before the wreck, she was leading a normal life with her mom in suburban New Yor...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published August 22nd 2006)
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Kelly
Whenever I read Joyce Carol Oates I kind of hate myself. It's overly dramatic and a tries a little too hard to be artsy, yet when I finish, I can't stop thinking about it. It's a very haunting quality.
Arminzerella
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin
Jenna Abbott is a high school freshman trying to come to terms with the car accident that killed her mother and sent her to the hospital. Jenna vows that she won't let anyone get close to her again - they always leave her anyway. So when she goes to live with her aunt and uncle in New Hampshire, she pushes her family and former friends away, choosing instead to befriend Trina. Trina, who has many problems of her own, takes Jenna under her wing and introduces her to the world of cutting class, un...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

Joyce Carol Oates's new book for teens has a long title and it really does sort of give away the ending. Although, the ending is probably not the most important, rather the journey and its twists and turns.

Jenna is in a tragic accident with her mother on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Her mother and the driver of the other car are killed, leaving Jenna a survivor, but at what cost? The circumstances of the accident are unclear. What Jenna...more
lateme
Marking this three stars is strange, because this is a well crafted book, if not one that you enjoy reading. It's short, and relatively easy to read, though it does take on hefty topics like drug abuse, drinking, and rape. I've read complaints about this book "trying too hard" but I enjoyed the way JCO played with words and structure. It gives the book a duality: flimsy, yet gritty, much like the life of our protagonist after she's involved in a fatal car accident.

I understood Jenna all through...more
Linda Lipko
What is there about this author that clearly wants to drag her stories into the ever darkest abyss?

Jenna is 15 and very close to her mother. Unfortunately on a sunny day while driving over the Tapanzee bridge, Jenna sees an object, commands her mother to stop and perhaps grabs the wheel, causing the car to swerve into the oncoming lane right into a truck.

Neither the driver of the truck or Jenna's mother survive. Badly broken, the story begins with Jenna in the ICU trying to make sense of just wh...more
Celestasaurus
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mrs. Foley
From Destiny library record, "Blaming herself for the car accident on the Tappan Zee Bridge that killed her mother, fifteen-year-old Jenna undergoes a difficult physical and emotional recovery."

I liked it okay, but not as much as Big Mouth, Ugly Girl (also by Oates). I do feel that she did a good job conveying the sense of loss and confusion that a teenager would feel after a wreck like the one in the book. Also, the relief of being "in the blue" that painkillers give shows how tempting drugs ar...more
Carrie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shonali
After reading Joyce Carol Oates’s We Were The Mulvaneys , I wanted to read more of her books. Though I had a lots of choices I picked up this one as it was targeted towards Young Adults. I am getting attracted to YA books lately and also because I had heard that this book goes at an amazing speed . Just because it is a fast read doesn’t make it a light read.

I liked the way Jenna’s feelings were portrayed . The guilt about being alive, thought of having to live with her estranged father and his n...more
Linda Campbell Franklin
Because of Joseph Young the fiction flasher I have got interested in short fiction after years of craving lonnnnnggggg books that never end (like Possession). I'd never seen this book before, although who could know all of Joyce Carol Oates books? I bought it for a quarter at the Pratt library branch at Pennsylvania and North Avenue after teaching there one night. Didn't realize it was a young adult novel.
I gave it a four star instead of 5 star because the Prologue and the first four chapters a...more
Leslie
Spoiler Alert

A young adult book, "After the Wreck" is about Jenna, a teenage girl who is in an accident with her mother who is killed. Jenna feels, though she isn't sure, that she may be to blame. Jenna's life begins spiraling out of control"after the wreck" as her loneliness and guilt lead her to make dangerous decisions involving drugs and alcohol abuse.

Refreshingly, this teenage character doesn't blame everyone else in her life for her problems and it's evident she feels powerless to pull her...more
Rachael
Jenna Abbott was just a normal girl living a normal life, until the wreck happened. Nothing was the same after the wreck as before it—Jenna’s friends, her home, even her own self. She has been irrevocably changed, whether she likes it, or wants to admit it, or not. She’s really only a shell of the girl she once was, clinging desperately to distant memories of happiness even though she’s on the verge of completely losing it. She can’t trust anyone, can’t let herself trust anyone, even her own fam...more
Brandy
This is the first full novel I've read from JCO. I've read a couple of her short stories, and mostly liked them, but this? This showed me that Oates probably doesn't talk to people much (because her dialogue is awful), particularly teenage people (because every other sentence is punctuated with "I guess"). In the prose sections, it was okay, but once she got into the dialogue again, she retained the same flowing rhythm of the text--which nobody uses in speech, particularly high schoolers.

Writing...more
Alex Toney
Though there is no denying her important place in American writing, I have never been a fan of Ms. Oates. I liked her venture into the realm of YA more than I enjoy her fiction, but I still found it mostly unremarkable. After the Wreck reminds me of the YA I read in the 90s. Sometimes in a good way, and sometimes in a bad way. Didn't not like, but wouldn't recommend.
Naomi
This book was kinda ok at first, but as I kept on reading, I realized that this is a really good book. Jenna Abbott is a teenager who was in a car accident with her mother, but unfortunately only she was the survivor. She separates her life in two categories: before the wreck and after the wreck. Her heart,body,mind and soul becomes hard with grief, distress, lonliness and a isolation that she cannot control. She feels like she cannot trust nor love anyone ever again and that her mom is the only...more
Kricket
Jenna can't remember exactly what caused the wreck that killed her mother, but she has an ugly feeling that it was her. The pain medicine during her immediate recovery made it so easy to drift away and forget, but the doctors have cut her off and now she's in New Hampshire, living with her aunt and uncle, going to a new school. Always she is trying to get back that ability to drift away "into the blue" (a phrase she uses ad nauseam, along with "before the wreck" and "after the wreck").

Jenna's n...more
Kerri
Kind of a sad book because she goes through so much grief after her mother dies. She closes up and doesn’t want to deal with anyone or anything – even though so many people are trying to help her. I liked the ending, but don’t read this book to cheer yourself up!

Summary: Jenna Abbott, 15, is struggling to come to terms with the car accident that killed her mother and nearly took her own life as well. Formerly athletic and smart, she suddenly finds herself unable to concentrate or communicate wit...more
Jeanne
Jenna Abbott’s life can be divided into two parts: before the wreck and after the wreck. Before the wreck, she was happily living with her mom and helping her mom survive the divorce. They wore matching sailor caps, and Jenna even ran for the school’s track team.

After the wreck, Jenna is left physically and mentally broken. She sustained such severe injuries that she’s now addicted to painkillers. And she lost her mother in the crash.

Now living with her aunt’s family, it is up to Jenna to start...more
papalbina
Quite chaotic book. It's told from the point of view of the main character, Jenna.

Jenna is a mess and very confused the most part of the book, so that the narration in first person is like the one you would find in a diary or directly in her head or at least a mix between thoughts and normal narration. At the beginning I liked that, but somewhere in the middle in the book I began to be annoyed by that style.

There are a lot of metaphors and subtle morals about life and teenager behaviour. The cha...more
Afton
The reader on my audio book was super animated! This is a YA book about a girl who lost her mother in a car crash when they were driving in New York. She of course blames herself. After moving in with her aunt's family, she makes friends with the wrong people. For me, it really showed the importance of teachers and friends in a young person's life. She gets involved with drugs. Somehow she manages to keep her grades up thanks to some caring teachers who see her suffering and want to help. At the...more
luscious
May 24, 2014 luscious rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Al
"'See, people come into your life for a reason. They might not know it themselves, why. You might not know it. But there's a reason. There has to be.'" (p. 136)

While this is a youth adult novel, I enjoyed it very much.
A kindred soul gave it to me and it struck a chord with me on 2 levels: firstly, I recognised the pain and anguish one feels after an accident, as I was hit by a car aged 12 and remained hospitalised for 9 weeks.
Secondly, there's the loss of the mother that makes your entire worl...more
Caroline
Weird abstract beginning that settled into an interesting narrative of a girl trying to find herself after a terrible accident in which she lost her mother. She flirts with the destructive friend and bad-boy crush; both relevant characters in every teenage girl's coming-of-age story. My teenage girl self yearned for more narrative involvement of the bad-boy crush and less time-wasting with the self-centered destructive friend; perhaps that's the way life really is, though--the bad-boy crush tend...more
Ashwise
I read this a year after my grandfather's sucidie and I felt like I could relate to the girl and her situiation. Would definitely read it again.
Cherylann
After the Wreck is an intense character study. The novel begins with Jenna and her mother in her mother's car as they drive across the Tappan Zee Bridge. Driving into the sun makes visibility difficult, and Jenna thinks she sees something on the bridge in front of the car. The next thing Jenna is aware of is being in a hospital. She's the only survivor of a terrible crash on the bridge. The novel focuses on Jenna's recovery - physical and emotional. Oates' writing is beautiful. She writes as wel...more
Megan
I read the entire book on the plane ride from Tulsa to Sacramento (about 3 hours or so). Very easy read, but good. It was probably too young adult for me (and I love YA), but I still enjoyed it. I like the idea of getting into the mind of a teenage girl dealing with a horrible tragedy. It was heartfelt, filled with sentiment without being cheesy. Jenna is a very likable protagonist and you can't help but grieve with her. Oates doesn't wrap everything up neatly -- grief is never really over, afte...more
Cathy
Fifteen-year-old Jenna's life changed careeened and hit the guard rail of the Tappan Zee Bridge leaving her mother and another driver dead and Jenna injured and in a drug- induced haze, in the blue. Feeling that she was responsible for the accident, Jenna wants to stay in the blue. Jenna goes to live with her aunt in New Hampshire, but cannot accept help from her. No surprise, she hooks up with a senior girl with access to drugs and alcohol to stay there. It takes a huge mistake and friendship w...more
Toni
A young adult novel that was very interesting. Jen loses her mother in an accident - this is what happens after the wreck. You have to feel sorry for her - physical injuries, emotional injuries, losing a parent and not knowing how to cope and how she comes out of it. There are problems galore and sometimes I wanted to reach into the book and take her by the shoulders and shake her but everything had to happen in her own time and she had to do her own healing. This is definitely a book that I wil...more
Christy
Jun 26, 2008 Christy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mature young adults to adults
Recommended to Christy by: my mother's bookshelf
Great book about overcoming a tramatic experience. Despite the title, it had more to do with the suffering that followed the tramatic experience than it did with the recovery, but of course, the recovery was monumental. Be prepared to enter the troubled mind and experiences of the protagonist. Also, the writing style was interesting. The author preferred to use short sentences instead of long, detailed ones, making the narrative seem choppy. But I think it was to mimic the train of thought of th...more
Robin
I listened to this as an audio book with my tween daughter. She found it very upsetting at times, though, since the main character is in an accident with her mother, who perishes.

This book brought me back to some difficult times suffered as a teen who has gone through some trauma. The feelings rang so true and raw that it was tough to listen to what she was going through, while I felt helpless in that I wouldn't know what to do to help her even if I could.

Without giving anything away, I think t...more
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure...more
More about Joyce Carol Oates...
We Were the Mulvaneys The Falls The Gravedigger's Daughter Blonde Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang

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“See, people come into your life for a reason. They might not know it themselves, why. You might not know it. But there's a reason. There has to be” 164 likes
“Cherie, keep walking. Shut your eyes. We are headed for the bridge. We are going to cross it.” 9 likes
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