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The Third Child: A Novel
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The Third Child: A Novel

2.88 of 5 stars 2.88  ·  rating details  ·  308 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Under her mother's constant scrutiny and lost in the shadow of her famous senator father, Melissa is the third child in the politically prominent Dickenson family, where ambition comes first and Melissa often comes last. In college, she meets Blake, a man of mixed race and apparently unknown parentage. His adoptive parents are lawyers whose defense of death-row cases in th...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published November 23rd 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published November 25th 2003)
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I'm irritated reading this book, but I'll probably finish it. I so loved "Woman on the Edge of Time" when I read it in my early twenties, and now I am nearly always disappointed when I read something else by Piercy. I hesitate to reread "Woman ... " for fear of knocking it of the pedestal I put it on when I was so much younger and more idealistic (naive? same coin / different sides?) ... I don't find the voice of Melissa convinving and the other characters are all either flat or each have some e...more
I love Marge Piercy, I am a huge fan. I've loved many of her novels and her poetry. That's why I was surprised to find this book at a library book sale - a Marge Piercy novel I'd never heard of? After reading it, I know why. The main character of the book is incredibly naive, so the plot "twists" that rock her world are pretty obvious to the readers, chapters before they actually happen. It's kind a train wreck. I was quite disappointed.
Blark. I found certain parts of this story kind of offensive to my sensibilities and other parts just plain not believable. About a spoiled Washington political brat and her struggles to go to college and grow up. Marge, what happened here?
This is not a well written book. The story is improbable, the characters are irritating--every single one!! It sounds like it was written by an adolescent in the throes of her first romance. It also is a very shallow and unresearched attempt to portray corruption in state and federal politics. The dialog is trite, the characters are caricatures, and it is so condescendingly anti-racist that it actually sounds racist. There's a pair of Jewish Lawyers, a black Jewish kid, a bunch of rich white idi...more
The writing style of this book was pretty terrible in my opinion. This author has ignored the basic 'show don't tell' advice when it comes to fiction writing - at least for this novel. You are spoon-fed everything, often repeatedly. The story was a good idea. The characters had the potential to be great characters. But the whole plot relied on the main character being a total moron and not seeing the obvious truth. I read it all the way through, because I very rarely give up on a book I've start...more
The whole book was like a car crash. It was messy, bloody, and horrible, but I couldn't look away. Supposedly to be like a modern day Romeo and Juliet, I was highly disappointed. Everything was predictable and boring. From the very beginning, Blake's motives were so apparent but Melissa is too much of an idiot to see it. Blake was a character that really got on my nerves. Maybe it's just me, but his excessive use of "babe" irritated me. He said it just over ten times, but I was already pulling m...more
Nancy Ferreyra
I give this book a four because I wanted it to go deeper. However I think the point of the book was to give the reader room to interpret the characters motives on their own, so the writer created that space. I see the value of the technique, but was left wanting more.
I think that this is easily, totally, 100% my least favorite Marge Piercy novel. The most positive thing I can say about it is that it is the first time I'd ever seen emergency contraception used in a novel, which I liked.
Claire S
Feb 11, 2009 Claire S rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Claire by: Prior Piercy
This was back on the side of 'didn't like' of hers (I'm about half and half). It was uncomfortable the whole time, with the main struggling pretty much about to boil over the whole time.
And also the content about our US govt has bothered me ever since. And I've been thinking about it ever since, which is why I rated it as highly as I did.
The thing in particular is Piercy's content about our Senate, and how close they are to each other, and far removed from their constituencies, and how bad that...more
This book had the worst font! It's the little things that bug me. The book was about the third child, Girl (of course), who is like lost in her little political family. She has two older sibs who are like her mothers pride and joy and then her and her brother who are kind of left out of everything. This book takes place in current times, even though sometimes I got all confused and thought it took place in the 60's or something, but then the mother emails her children, so I knew it was more curr...more
I wanted to read this book because in the past, I have read some of Marge Piercy's poetry and loved it. However, this book I did not. While it kept my attention, it didn't hook me in. The main character, Melissa, was a girl who was just too plain and naive.

With Melissa being the third child, and her father a senator, no one pays attention to her. Instead, the family is focused on having a good reputation in front of America. When Melissa finally moves away to college, she is able to be her self...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read the back flap and thought, what an interesting story this will be. Unfortunately, It wasn't and I gave up on page 40. What poor narrative, phony dialogues and trains of thought presumably by a teenager... Please give the same plot to someone else and see what they can do with it.
I'm giving it two because I liked it enough to finish reading and wanted to know exactly how the shit hit the fan...but definitely disappointed in this book and didn't feel a connection to the characters
Big disappointment from one of my favorite authors. I found myself sympathetic with the characters that were obviously supposed to be the bad guys. Maybe I just don’t like coming of age novels.
Lucy Crawford
Barely freshman level prose, and the plot is both banal and obvious.
Mary Campbell
I liked the book, but most of the reviews are bad.
Oct 25, 2007 Rosanne rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: book clubs
My book club choose this book and I have to admit it was a good book for discussion. Their were no reading guide questions we could find; so we were on our own but that didn't present a problem. This read made me anxious. The character, Melissa, was so niave and dense at times I wanted to scream. Perhaps this is what the author wanted to portray, as the story is about a third child in a family that wasn't loved. Take a close look at Mom and Dad too while reading this book. Is everyone in politic...more
Elizabeth Ruth
A very strange book that was painful to read at times because of the main character's almost insistent naivetee. Why so painful? Reminded me of myself at 18, hell, at 20.

Such flat, stereotypical characters, such a totally predictable plot, and yet there was something that kept me reading. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this, but there was something redeemable- probably the way Piercy captures the doggone infuriating idealism of people in their early 20s.
Not nearly as good as her other novels.
I was pretty disappointed in this book, the story was a good idea that had real potential and the author is someone who I would have expected to be able to really do it justice. But the problem was the central character was incredibly naive and resistant to reality and just was so frustrating to try and connect with. I almost gave up, but was curious to see if the ending I predicted in the middle of the book came to pass, yup.
Christine Williams
Good read. I guessed early on what was happening, but it was well told.
I couldn't wait for this book to end - the pages and pages of self pity was mind numbing and there was not one person who I felt any empathy or sympathy for - I am not sure why I even finished it except to be able to say I finished it. I used to love Marge Piercy's books..... not so much anymore. I would recommend you NOT read this book!
I loved Marge Piercy when I was in high school and college; I'm not sure whether my tastes have changed, or if this book is inferior to her earlier work. In any case, it was so trite and painfully stereotyped that I couldn't finish it. Also, the college scenes seem incredibly dated, even though they're supposed to be set in 2003 or so.
A politically-ambitious family is portrayed in this tale of ambition gone rogue. The author paints a layered picture of families caught up in the often ruthless plot to succeed in politics and the enemies that gather as a consequence. Intriguing and hard to put down and, inevitably, heart-breaking.
It was a good book. At points it was very predictable. It definitely captures what a teengage girl will do for someone who she loves and thinks loves her back, although in an extreme sense. It brought into perspective not everything is what they seem. I liked and it was quick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I am a big fan of Marge Piercy- Woman on the Edge of Time is one of my all time favorite books. But this one just fell flat for me. Too many contrivances and coincidences and the foreshadowing was really heavy handed. Also hated the ending.
Pretty good read. Certainly didn't turn out like I thought it would. Kept me engaged until the end and gave several theories for the motivation of one of the characters. The reader has to draw his or her own conclusions on this one.
Wonderful! Marge Piercy does it again. I keep waiting for her novels to fall into a formula type writing but each one is a unique story! She is so talented!
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Marge Piercy (born March 31, 1936) is an American poet, novelist, and social activist. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Gone to Soldiers, a sweeping historical novel set during World War II.

Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a family deeply affected by the Great Depression. She was the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan. Winning a...more
More about Marge Piercy...
Woman on the Edge of Time He, She and It Gone to Soldiers The Moon Is Always Female: Poems Sex Wars: A Novel of Gilded Age New York

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