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I'll Take You There

3.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,494 Ratings  ·  134 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
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 16th 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published 2002)
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31st out of 107 books — 58 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,484)
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Dec 22, 2007 Amy rated it did not like it
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
Jim Leckband
Apr 26, 2011 Jim Leckband rated it really liked it
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
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
Aug 21, 2008 Ruby rated it liked it
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
Sarah B.
Oct 04, 2014 Sarah B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 01, 2007 Sheila rated it really liked it
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
Jan 01, 2010 Beth Anne rated it liked it
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
Jul 14, 2015 Tuxlie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

I'll Take You There is told by a woman looking back on her first years of college, at Syracuse in the 1970s. Her story, softened by the gauze of memory and the relief of having survived, nonetheless captures a harrowing ordeal of alienation and despair, heightened by a wrenching interracial love affair and her father's death.

Cursed by insatiable yearning and constant dissatisfaction, "Anellia" has always been haunted by her mother. With her father and brothers making her feel responsible for he

Aug 18, 2014 Rachel rated it did not like it
Shelves: meh, modern-lit
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
I'll Take You There tells the story of a young woman growing up in America during the 60s: going to university, falling in love, coming to terms with her relationship to her parents. At university she joins a sorority; in the sorority house the girls are busy becoming women together, discovering themselves and other people, becoming "sisters". The narrator does not join in the fun. She becomes confirmed in her self-opinion as an irredeemable outsider, appalled by the predatory "heifer-sized" m ...more
Anna Brown
Dec 26, 2015 Anna Brown rated it really liked it
Joyce Carol Oates has a magnificent way of explaining emotions in a way I've never read before. Written from a naive girl's point of view. Glad I was recommended this book!
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
Mar 12, 2015 Pat rated it really liked it
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
Nov 24, 2014 Candace Marie rated it liked it
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
Nov 13, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only picked this up, I think, because I had only recently finished listening to Oates' "The Sacrifice" and enjoying that. I came available for listening just after I finished Anne Enright's "The Green Road" - which I did not enjoy much. "I'll Take You There" was quite the contrast; and for me, far more enjoyable. Oates grabbed my attention from the start and held it throughout the sorority days, the affair days, and the dying father days. Clearly a girl/woman's coming-of-age (and beyond) story ...more
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
Eve Kay
Apr 12, 2016 Eve Kay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What starts out as something promising turns into something mediocre turns into boring ends up yawn.
The book is in three parts and the first part was very good. It sets the scene where the protagonist starts college and is very much an outcast. In every possible way. I thought it was brilliantly written and it really pulled me in. I also felt empathy for the protagonist. Poor girl.
The second part wasn't brilliantly written. It was alot of flow-state writing where the protagonist meets a man and
Lauren Hartney
Dec 03, 2007 Lauren Hartney rated it liked it
good one. vintage oates. 1960's bi-racial relationship--stark, simple, compelling.
Mar 06, 2015 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 28, 2011 Sherri rated it really liked it
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
David Haws
Feb 17, 2013 David Haws rated it really liked it
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.”
Sep 03, 2012 Judi rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2002
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
Nov 04, 2012 Sheryl Guise rated it liked it
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
Nov 11, 2007 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2007
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
Apr 30, 2015 Donna rated it liked it
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
Sep 22, 2011 Géraldine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 2011
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
Mar 23, 2010 Karen rated it liked it
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
Suzanne Auckerman
Nov 21, 2013 Suzanne Auckerman rated it liked it
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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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.” 6 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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