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I'll Take You There

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  1,342 ratings  ·  119 reviews
"Anellia" is a young student who, though gifted with a penetrating intelligence, is drastically inclined to obsession. Funny, mordant, and compulsive, she falls passionately in love with a brilliant yet elusive black philosophy student. But she is tested most severely by a figure out of her past she'd long believed dead.

Astonishingly intimate and unsparing, and pitiless in
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ebook, 304 pages
Published October 15th 2002 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,161)
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Amy
Dec 22, 2007 Amy rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Wow. I really did not like this book. I was about 1/3 of the way through by the time I decided I really didn't care for it, though, and I didn't have anything else to read at lunch, so I decided just to stick with it.

I recently read an interview with Joyce Carol Oates where she said this was the most autobiographical of all her books. If that's the case, apparently I violently dislike Joyce Carol Oates, or at least I would have when she was in college. The unnamed (or multi-named) protagonist le
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Kinga
Like a Greek tragedy this book is made up of three acts in which the main character falls apart and picks herself up again.
I must say the parts were a little too clean cut to me. It really felt like three novellas rather than one novel. It was my first Joyce Carol Oates' book and I can already tell I will be a fan even if this one was just a 3 star effort really. I threw one more star in because girl bullying and interracial relationships are one of my favourite literary subjects. All in all it
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Jim Leckband
Oates tackles some philosophy in this one. She references ontology, existentialism (she explicitly names a philosophy grad student "Matheius" which is similar to the protagonist "Mathieu" of Sartre's "The Age of Reason"), Spinoza, Nietzche, Plato, idealism, Wittgenstein's language theory etc. and that is just what I remember - I'm sure I'm missing some of them.

But what is the point of this and does it make an interesting novel? I think it does. Who else but Oates would foist all this philosophic
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Ruby
I never dislike Joyce Carol Oates, but sometimes I have a shoulder shrug reaction to her work. This was one of those books. It was beautifully written, and definitely took me back to college days. Primarily because it is about the slow and painful emergence of a person, through insecurity, the freshness of first love, the hardening that comes from suffering through shattering loss. So I'm calling it a good book, but something about it didn't quite hold together and I didn't love it like I tend t ...more
Sherhazade
I have tended in the past to like Joyce Carol Oates' short stories best of all her works. I've used a couple of them in the classroom. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is the most popular with students, a personal favorite, and probably the most widely anthologized of her stories. I've never really been into her novels, but the last one I read, Black Girl, White Girl, was really good. I've noticed similarities among many of her female protagonists--meek, sensitive, nervous, lacking se ...more
Mary Rose
Oh, JCO. What are we going to do with you? As usual, Oates' writing is impeccable, her voice distinct and descriptions lovely, but I could not have picked a more boring subject matter if I had posed the challenge to a doornail. A sorority girl losing her sanity and health, periodically going on long winded tangents about how very, very, VERY British (ahem, English, ahem) her sorority's house mother is. This entire section of the book is filled with her making bad decision after bad decision and ...more
Sheila
I read most of this book on a plane — not the best choice if you're looking for a calm, light-hearted read. This was my first Joyce Carol Oates novel and it certainly won't be my last. It seems like a lot of people found the narrator ("Anellia" though her real name is a matter of dispute) too self-obsessive and not likable. I had the opposite reaction - surrounded by a society and people she can no longer relate to (the Kappas), Anellia emerges as a fiercly independent and self-expressive woman. ...more
Beth Anne
i found that this book said so little, but said so much. what i mean is that there was no point to telling the story, except to tell the story. am i being too cryptic?

let me try again.

the novel tell the first person account of the 4 college years in the life of a nameless woman in the early 60's. in between her stories of joining a sorority, falling in love with a black man, and meeting her thought to be dead father, we find a complex woman....obsessive, neurotic, super intelligent and completel
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Sarah B.
This book, about an immature college student, was one of the most nuanced, complicated, adult books I have ever read. While reading it, I was unsure if I had picked up a novel or a memoir. As it turns out, it is a bit of each.

Knowing that Oates is writing about herself makes the reader's relationship to the novel more complex. Oates does not seem to like her protagonist much, and we are not invited to like or admire her, either. She drags the protagonist kicking and screaming out of her own head
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Rachel
I previously read a short story by Oates called Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?. I think she does better in the short story format where, y'know, she's not allowed so many WORDS.(view spoiler) ...more
Laura Zurowski
JCO's I'll Take You There is set in the early 1960's at a private college in Upstate New York, but it could be set anywhere, at any time in the contemporary era. Like so many of her other books, this is a story with rich character development focusing on people who are broken, struggling with their place in the world, their "otherness", and their inability to conform to socially expected norms.

"Anellia", as she calls herself, is a fish out of water. She's left a working class family embroiled in
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Pat
JCO introduces her readers to a fascinating woman in this novel. She is desperate to fit into almost any place that will have her; she seeks identity, companionship and a sense of belonging that has eluded her all of her life. As is often the case, our greatest strength may also be our greatest detriment. "Annelia's" intellectual pursuits and abilities lead her to seek definition through another character, Vernor, who uses and discards her just as her sorority did. I felt intense compassion for ...more
Candace Marie
Strong characters, relevant to the times. A very interesting perspective on how the quest to find acceptance and love after a childhood lacking in both can often lead to inappropriate and naive obsessions.

I love how "Anellia" (the fact that she is essentially nameless through the novel is fantastic) comes to learn lessons the hard way through struggles and mistakes and total bleeding heart moments. Without the benefit of an active parent or guiding, trusted adult in her life, she had to make a
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Σπύρος Γλύκας
‘Η παρείσακτη’ της Τζόις Κάρολ Όουτς είναι ένα μυθιστόρημα που χωρίζεται σε τρία μέρη. Στο πρώτο παρακολουθούμε την ένταξη της πρωταγωνίστριας σε μια από τις αδελφότητες ενός αμερικάνικου Πανεπιστημίου, στο δεύτερο τον πρώτο της έρωτα και στο τρίτο την απώλεια ενός πολύ κοντινού συγγενικού της προσώπου.
Η Ανέλια είναι το τέταρτο παιδί μιας αγροτικής οικογένειας, το οποίο κατηγορούν για το θάνατο της μητέρας του που πέθανε 18 μήνες μετά την γέννηση της. Με τον πατέρα της να είναι ουσιατικά απών απ
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Lauren Hartney
good one. vintage oates. 1960's bi-racial relationship--stark, simple, compelling.
Angela
I've read Joyce Carol Oates before, and I don't remember being blown away. But I keep on trying. And sometimes you have to keep on trying, because you'll end up stumbling on something you really enjoy.

Anellia, or whatever her name is (we never do learn her real name), is going out into the world outside her small farm town in upstate New York—to college, where she expects to have grand adventures and grand loves and to be completely changed.

I loved the first part of the novel, which is Anellia's
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Sherri
This is the story of a young college student Anellia who in the first half of the book joins a sorority thinking that this is where she belongs. She had yearned to be a part of something to have 'sisters' and when a friend suggested they pledge, she did so. Anellia got into the sorority unbeknownst to her, because of her intelligence and because of the promise this held in her helping the other sorority sisters with their homework.

Anellia is poor and cannot afford to dress like the other sororit
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David Haws
Oates’ protagonist describes Vernor Matheius as “technically young,” and I fear that Oates is imagining “nineteen” as someone approaching seventy. Thirty-something is ancient for a nineteen-year-old college sophomore (if she is odd enough—as the protagonist clearly is—she may desire ancient, but she’s unlikely to be internally confused).

I first read Oates as a young undergraduate at Berkeley (late 60s/early 70s) where she (a 30-something) was presented as at the cutting edge of “young fiction.”
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Judi
Our nameless narrator tells us about three separate events that occurred in her life beginning when she was a nineteen-year-old girl attending college in upstate New York during the early 1960s. As a scholarship student, she is smarter than most (she will eventually graduate as valedictorian), but lacks social skills, emotional maturity and financial security of most students. But these are things she is only vaguely aware of as she obsessively attempts to experience life the way she thinks it s ...more
Sheryl Guise
There is something inately frustrating about reading a novel in which you never learn the name of the principal character. Turns out it is not the only frustrating aspect of the novel. I've read a number of books by Joyce Carol Oates, and had reasonably high expectations. I found myself not exactly enjoying it though. And then I stopped in here and discovered there was a contingent whose reviews said they had not even got past page 50.

Of course that meant I really *had* to keep reading! I'd alre
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Christina
A very personal and intimate story written in first-person. An interesting book with a insightful view into the personality of a young girl who after having lost her mother early and with a father who was never there, desperately tries to find a way to fit in, to figure out who to be. She variously tries to construct herself as a sorority girl, as the love of an older black male (not unproblematic in the 60s) and as a family girl - never really seeming to figure out who she truly is.
As a philoso
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Donna
Disturbing and riddled with incomplete sentences that drive me mad and cause me to re-read them to be sure I have the meaning right. For such a bright and promising girl, Anellia is damaged and immature and on the road to ruin. We care mostly because of her bleak childhood but while we root for her, she makes one bad decision after another. JCO is often self-indulgent and this story is no exception. Supposedly the most biographical of her work, it seems to fit considering the time periods and th ...more
Géraldine
Plus de deux mois de lecture à petits pas mais j'ai fini par accrocher à ce qui est finalement une relecture.

C'est un roman difficile à approcher du fait de son atmosphère très sombre. Le personnage principal, Anellia est pluriel, accrocheur, à la fois rebelle et sensible. C'est le portrait d'une adolescente devenant adulte en faisant l'expérience de la vie en communauté, d'un premier amour et finalement du décès de son père. J'ai senti l'évolution du caractère de la jeune femme (ce que je n'ava
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Karen
I'm always looking for new authors so I decided to give Joyce Carol Oates a try.
This book was good, but far too cerebral for me. This did tell a story that was interesting, but the main focus of the book was to uncover the reasons for everything that was happening. It only used the story as a platform for uncovering human thinking and reasoning.
It is the story of a lonely girl from a small New York town who has never felt accepted or loved by her father, brothers, or grandparents. Her mother
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Suzanne Auckerman
I like Joyce Carol Oates because she writes in many different styles. Glimpses of characters and pieces of plots float around in her mind for months or years and then gel into a novel or short story. Bits of this book were published in 1998, but it was published as a book in 2002.

Here is a book review:
A tightly worked gem of a book, I'll Take You There is a portrayal of a woman's inner reality and the development of identity, the ability to love, and the capacity to forgive. Beginning as a girl
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Elise
Wow. Yet another great Joyce Carol Oates read. Not as dark as some of her other books, but still her trademark insight into the human psyche. And of course, one twist (there is always a twist) is that you never know the protagonists real name. Oates always loves a good twist. If you want a book that shows the inner workings of obsessive, lonely, young woman trying to find her place in the world, then this book is for you.
Sally Whitehead
Lacking the engaging plot of earlier novels such as "We Were the Mulvaneys" this is a much more claustrophobic and intense read. It really places Oates on the literary map as one of America's most intellectual modern female writers, not least due to the philosophical references and ponderings throughout. The opening section is somewhat reminiscent of other novels which focus on the utterly alienating experience of being an unconventional intelligent, academic young woman in America in the early ...more
Don O'goodreader
Set in the 60s, I'll Take You There by Joyce Carol Oates, is not another chronicle of drugs, sex and rock & roll, but an intimate exploration of what happened to most of the rest of us. The sixties were a time when roles and rules evaporated - not even evaporated - sublimated. Societal structures went directly from the rigidity of ice blocks to the invisibility of water vapor. While some took the psychedelic route, others tried to understand and even impact the changes. This latter group inc ...more
Aubrey
Sep 27, 2007 Aubrey rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
This book was a very personal, sometimes uncomfortable, but always funny read.

A first-person narrative, I'll Take You There's narrator is an intelligent, obsessive, needy, and slightly off-balance girl in her college years. With sometimes brutal self-awareness, the narrator seeks to define herself through her surroundings. Though the "self" is something too complicated to understand itself, she tries by turning to other girls her own age, to other intellectuals, and to family - constantly reinve
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Eileen
This story of obsessive love set against university sorority life in the early sixties reads more as autobiography than fiction. It's claustrophobic, addictive, and like all of Oates' work, wonderfully well-written. (As a writer sometimes accused of semicolon abuse, I'm awestruck by her unapologetic use of multiple semicolons.)
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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
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“I was nineteen years five months old when I fell in love for the first time. This seemed to me a profound, advanced age; never can we anticipate being older than we are, or wiser; if we're exhausted, it's impossible to anticipate being strong; as, in the grip of a dream, we rarely understand that we're dreaming, and will escape by the simplest of methods, opening our eyes.” 5 likes
“I had been reading Wittgenstein. There are no philosophical problems, only linguistic misunderstandings. Was this so? If so, why write at such length about it? I could understand [his] attraction to such a philosophy. Spartan, rigorous. Surpassingly skeptical. Well, good: philosophers should be skeptical. (No one else is: the mass of mankind is credulous as a gigantic infant, willing to suck any teat.)” 1 likes
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