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Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,546 Ratings  ·  321 Reviews
The time is the 1950s. The place is a blue-collar town in upstate New York, where five high school girls are joined in a gang dedicated to pride, power, and vengeance on a world they never made - a world that seems made to denigrate and destroy them.

Foxfire is Joyce Carol Oates' strongest and most unsparing novel often engrossing, often shocking evocation of fema
320 pages
Published (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Caitlin Constantine
Apr 02, 2009 Caitlin Constantine rated it it was amazing
I love this book so much that I find it difficult to write about it without gushing. I mean, there is the obvious reason why, which is that it's about a girl gang that targets predatory men and boys - and of course, horrible pet shops - with a sense of prefeminist vengeance. Feminist vigilantism appeals to me on this base, primal level, even if I have problems with violence in general.

The book said a lot about the time and place in which everything took place. The sharp class divides, the socia
Jan 27, 2011 Renee rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Foxfire is the book that impacted me the most in Middle school. Take that as you must, but I'm happy to see that, unlike The Catcher in the Rye, it holds up reading it with adult eyes. Of course, now, 10 years older than the last time I read it, I find issues with some of the characters I loved as a teenager, but I can see a desperation and naivete I couldn't see before. This book is one of many that cements Oates into the the hall of fame of awesome American writers.
Nov 21, 2007 Carla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: girls, women who run with foxes
Foxfire never says die.
I have a Tattoo, based from this Book and the Movie that followed,...that starred Angelina Jolie. ;)
It's the story of a group of misfit girls, who fight back. Yes, they are a girl gang, but they aren't the offshoot of a boy gang. They aren't the girls of some local hoods. They are the ones running the show.
You are my Heart, Joyce. Foxfire Forever.
Matt Eckel
Sep 20, 2007 Matt Eckel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If rock'n'roll is your ideal, then this is a book you want to read. Not that Foxfire deals explicitly with music at any point, but Oates is able to distill that same electricity.

The story is set in the 50s, but, except for a few scattered cultural markers, it could just as easily be set in the contemporary moment. And I read it in that context. Nothing felt put on, or "for show." I've known women like the characters in this book, including some close friends I've gotten to know over the years. T
Mar 03, 2016 Laura rated it it was ok
If I wasn’t reading this for a book club it would have been a hard DNF at about 30%. But I’m glad I finished it because it turns out it was fun to discuss it even if it wasn’t fun to read.

I don’t like stream of consciousness writing; it always seems to me to be more interesting for the author than for the reader, and this was a case in point.

The idea sounded good: a girl gang with a charismatic leader running rampant in 1950s upstate New York. Unfortunately the execution was pretty dull; skewe
Apr 18, 2016 Tori rated it it was ok
"Yeah probably we have souls but why's that mean we're gonna last forever? Like a flame is real enough, isn't it, while it's burning? Even if there's a time it goes out?"
** rape cw **
The first 200 pages of this book is full of stark truths and wild emotion and feminist vigilantes! and challenged me in a way a book hasn't in a long time. I would not recommend it, though.

Please note content warnings for graphic sexual assault, specifically at one point graphic depiction of rape of a disabled char
Feb 22, 2016 Jenna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gaypede Book Club Pick February

I have had a bit of time to think after hearing opinions at book club, and sadly I am still the odd man out. Within the first few pages I knew that the writing style wasn't for me. Those who know me know I am pretty Type A, and my brain likes things nice, neat, and logical. There are a few writers who can still engage me when they are jumping all over the place as long as I can see why. This for some reason was not one of those books.

Another large problem that I j
Sep 07, 2014 Marinechinaski rated it really liked it
Son chicas y viven en la zona marginal de la ciudad a inicios de los cincuenta. Son niñas y han visto los horrores de los hombres intentando abusar de ellas y atacarlas. Deciden crear una banda de chicas, una sociedad de hermanas de sangre, una hermandad en la que se tomarán la justicia por su mano, se ayudarán las unas a las otras y se darán una razón de ser. Y la artífice de todo esto, la abanderada será Legs Sadovsky, uno de esos personajes cercanos y misteriosos, un espíritu libre que lucha ...more
Charlotte Wnendt
May 13, 2014 Charlotte Wnendt rated it liked it
Foxfire, a quirky, young novel about the fight against violence towards women and animals, the fight for emancipation. Foxfire shows a first hand account on the struggle young girls faced during the 50's and 60's in America. I thought this novel was a very interesting read and informative of what a girl was faced with growing up in a lower middle class in New York State especially the day to day sexism.
The book left me feeling blessed to be growing up in such a developed era for women, even tho
Sep 04, 2010 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Foxfire is a book that read itself. At first, I found the choppy stream-of-consciousness style hard to deal with. I had to re-read the first few pages several times. But after the first third, or so, I began to get a feel for the odd prose style. The run-on sentences, capital letters, and lack of punctuation dragged my eye across the page and made the book very difficult to put down. I read most of the last two hundred pages in a single sitting and can’t remember the last time I finished a book ...more
Matt Pelletier
May 13, 2014 Matt Pelletier rated it it was ok
What happens when a civil strife turns civil disobedience? What happens when vigilantism turns into violent vindication? This idea of bastardizing a sentimental cause is exposed in Joyce Carol Oates’s Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang. Foxfire is set in Hammond, a town in upstate New York. The novel is the memoirs narrated by Madeleine “Maddie” Wirtz. Maddie, a fifteen year old student and astronomer in the town, becomes closely connected with a girl named Margaret “Legs” Sadovsky. Legs is a b ...more
May 12, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it
I found Foxfire to be a very thought provoking novel. I would not suggest this book to younger kids or to anyone who does not like violence. I am mature enough to handle this kind material although even for me I found the content to be more graphic then I expected. Although I believe that this is what the author intended. As the message she was trying to convey was of women empowerment and to show that the reader must understand why it was needed. That is why these girls had to deal with the tra ...more
Amir Shamsi
May 12, 2014 Amir Shamsi rated it really liked it
Shelves: analyzed
Mysterious and interesting: the story of a gang which drags you through the lives of Foxfire girls is just more than a story. Probably the first time that you hear the name gang you expect a group of high school (or elder) big boys seeking drugs and street fights. But this gang is different in many directions. First the members of this gang are girls which is quiet surprising at its place. Secondly, Foxfire seeks equality and justice instead of fights and violence. So, all in all this book is a ...more
John Rikhtegar
May 12, 2014 John Rikhtegar rated it really liked it
Surprisingly, I very much so enjoyed reading 'Foxfire' by Joyce Carol Oates. At times, perhaps the themes and underlining meanings were a little repetitive, but overall I was definitely pleasantly surprised. This novel is set in the 1950's-1960's and shows the harsh and unfair times that women were forced to live in. This novel is shows the adventure of some teenage girls who decide to fight what they believe in, through means of radical physical and emotional abuse. Legs, Maddy, Rita and Goldie ...more
Shelbi Stogdill
Dec 18, 2015 Shelbi Stogdill rated it really liked it
Foxfire is an all out book of girl empowerment and feminism. Taken place in the 50’s and 60’s shortly after the 2nd World War. This book is written through the perspective of Maddy, who is 15 at the time the story is told and you later find out is an astronomer’s assistant reliving the days, and often switches points of view. It took place a lower class setting next to an upper class society. Much like the views of a city on a hill. Foxfire is a gang in the lower class society, but the first all ...more
May 09, 2014 Lan-linh rated it it was ok
Joyce Carol Oates tries to break many gender stereotypes in the novel Foxfire; a girl gang that targets men and boys with violence and strength. The girls, Maddie, Legs, Goldie, Rita and Lana work together to seek revenge on the men in their lives who do them wrong. The novel was surprising due to the fact the girls go completely against the image society portrays for women while trying to fight for feminism.

Though the plot and story line were interesting and easy to follow, it is the poor depic
May 09, 2014 Paulina rated it it was ok
I thought that this novel was a little bit strange. I think that the characters are all very unique and the storyline is in fact captivating, but the story itself I found was a little unusual. The novel was filled with action packed events, which made it rather quick to read. I thought that it was difficult to read the novel because I found that I didn't seem to agree with the points of views of the main characters and how intense their actions were. I think that the novel demonstrated an intere ...more
Sara Ann
Apr 23, 2014 Sara Ann rated it liked it
Overall, I liked this book and found the characters believable and the story engaging.

I liked Legs and Maddy. The other characters weren’t developed enough for me to have feelings for, aside from pity for Rita, but not the sympathy or heartache you might have for someone you know or care about.

Legs was my favorite character. She was independent, stoic, and headstrong, but still had the naivety and impulses of a teenager. She was a girl unchecked by adult reason or reassurance. She created her ow
Amron Born
Dec 18, 2015 Amron Born rated it really liked it
Foxfire is set in the 1950s, in a fictional city in New York. The girls living in this town are young, but they have already seen some of the horrors of the world they live in. The book is very purposely placed in the poorer parts of town, and the girls all come from lower class families who are all dealing with some pretty big issues, like abuse and alcoholism. This main setting is accompanied by the secondary setting of the richer families’ large homes. These contrasting settings mirror the co ...more
Michelle Rugamba
May 03, 2014 Michelle Rugamba rated it it was ok
Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, by Joyce Carol Oates, is a powerful novel that I was surprisingly not really interested in. I think one of the main reasons why I didn't find this book interesting was due to the fact that it was very hard to read because of all the breaks in the writing, and the punctuation. I personally thought the breaks and the punctuation made me become more disconnected while reading the novel. This novel is about a girl group gang of five that seek revenge on men in pa ...more
May 14, 2014 Murrizi rated it liked it
The novel "Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang" by the author Joyce Carol Oates was very intriguing, mainly due to its feministic, revolution-themed style. Although novels containing a female protagonist usually have difficulty holding my interest, through the ideas and values portrayed by the plot and the growth of the individuals characters apart of the rebellious "Foxfire" gang, the author had me glued. Another comment worthy feature of the novel is how all of the male figures are shown as ev ...more
Apr 14, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
Foxfire was thought provoking, infuriating, interesting and eye opening. This book was very different from what I have ever read before and therefore I felt that I wasn't going to like it all. The book was narrated by a women called Maddy who was looking back on her journals she had kept when she was part of a girl gang called Foxfire. I found it relatively difficult for me to read the more violent scenes in the novel because I am very opposed to violence of any kind and generally speaking belie ...more
May 13, 2014 Adam rated it liked it
Foxfire is an engaging and exciting book and overall it is very good. I like that the gang is seeking justice against predatory men and an unjust social hierarchy. Legs was my favorite character because she was so independent. She did not simply live as adult told her she must. She fashioned her own way of justice, her own world, and her own way of life all through the Foxfire gang. One thing about the book that I didn’t like was Oates’ portrayal of all men as vicious and predatory. This is not ...more
Oct 20, 2007 Nicole rated it it was ok
Just 'eh.' Not as exciting as a book about a girl gang should be.
Oct 21, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing
Yes the writing is superb and the commentary on feminism that isn't feminism but just protecting yourself and its all so wonderful that I'm even starting to write like Maddy, because its Maddy isn't it not Joyce. But my favorite thing about this book is its portrayal of female friendships, those friendships that are so strong that you really feel like you would die for this girl. That this girl is your sister in blood as well as spirit, your chosen family. I think female friendships are in many ...more
Annie Marland
Stylized like a memoir by character Madeleine “Maddy”/”Monkey” Wirtz, Foxfire by Joyce Carol Oates tells the story of five girls who all grew up together in the fictional town of Hammond, New York. They band together to form a girl gang and build a reputation from their escapades. They take down any man who stands in their way with no mercy or gentle nature. The novel is quite entertaining to read. Oates gives the reader a vivid picture of all the events and occurrences throughout the novel whic ...more
Jan 03, 2009 Laurie rated it really liked it
This novel is a fictionalized account of an all-female gang that forms in a working class community in upstate New York. The gang, Foxfire, is founded by a group of girls who've all suffered alientation and lack of parental attention. The girls share a sense of being alienated and restricted from any sort of real social benefits or meaningful relationships becuase of their age, gender, economic status, and family situation. The gang is formed, and begins, by using public humilation and minor vio ...more
Mary Billinghurst
Oct 29, 2013 Mary Billinghurst rated it really liked it
Foxfire is my first Joyce Carol Oates novel. She is a very prolific author whose works have often been heralded by readers and critics alike. It is about time that I read one of her novels.

This was a good choice. Foxfire is the name of a 1950's girl gang living in the northern New York town of Hammond. Its history is narrated by the group's official chronicler, Maddy Wirtz, in a series of episodes that lead to the final events which bring about the destruction of the group. Gang leader Legs Sand
Mar 03, 2010 SomePig rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There is no faulting the flow of Oates' prose. Having read Foxfire, I would even venture to say that I agree that she is a tour de force in contemporary fiction, but the star rating, as laid out by Goodreads, is all about how much I LIKE or don't LIKE a book. I really can't say I like this book. There are elements that I like. I like the character of Rita; I like the way Oates develops the foxfire motif, and I would even go as far as to say that certain passages would translate perfectly to a gr ...more
Nov 14, 2010 Sonia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Non avevo mai incontrato la Oates nelle mie letture e ora trovarla nelle parole di Maddy-Monkey e nei gesti di Legs è stato un incontro determinante.
E' la storia di una gang femminile degli States negli anni 50, una gang che vuole lottare contro il maschio, contro gli uomini e che si ritrova a comportarsi esattamente come gli stessi uomini, nelle loro violenze, nei loro agganci, nei loro imbrogli.
E' un libro duro e delicato allo stesso tempo. Una storia drammatica e a lieto fine, in un certo s
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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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“The strangeness of Time. Not in its passing, which can seem infinite, like a tunnel whose end you can't see, whose beginning you've forgotten, but in the sudden realization that something finite, has passed, and is irretrievable.” 179 likes
“Whoever's reading this, if anyone is reading it: does it matter that our old selves are lost to us as surely as the past is lost, or is it enough to know yes we lived then, and we are living now, and the connection must be there? Like a river hundreds of miles long exists both at its source and at its mouth, simultaneously?” 36 likes
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