Little Bird of Heaven
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Little Bird of Heaven

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  1,664 ratings  ·  286 reviews
Joyce Carol Oates returns with a dark, romantic, and captivating tale, set in the Great Lakes region of upstate New York—the territory of her remarkably successful New York Times bestseller The Gravedigger's Daughter.

Set in the mythical small city of Sparta, New York, this searing, vividly rendered exploration of the mysterious conjunction of erotic romance and tragic

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Hardcover, 442 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Ecco (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Sarah
I really don't understand why this book is so highly rated by so many people. Maybe they just read the book jacket. I would have liked to read the book described there. But in reality it's just empty. It repeats things over and over - the trite expressions that Zoe said, the fact that "Krissy loves her Daddy". And oh yeah, Zoe was murdered. Got to mention that again every other page, or the reader might forget. It's just lazy writing. Instead of constructing characters with depth, Oates just rep...more
notgettingenough
This book has done the unforgivable. It has put me off my porridge.
Jennifer March
This is hard for me to admit, because I am a huge JCO fan (I think the world of her), but I just couldn't get into Little Bird of Heaven. Loved the setting. Loved much of the description and use of language. Loved the set-up--a murder, an affair, her father accused of killing his mistress, the familial upheaval that ensues--but it didn't grab me. Everything just felt so slow and drawn out. I wanted less intricate detail and more juice.

(I wonder if it's just me and my short attention span combine
...more
Laurel-Rain
In Joyce Carol Oates's latest novel, "Little Bird of Heaven: A Novel," the brutal slaying of Zoe Kruller, a young wife and mother, forms the central core to the story, with two major suspects: her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her long-time lover, Eddy Diehl.

Diehl's daughter Krista and Kruller's son Aaron become obsessed with each other, as, over the years, nobody is charged with the slaying, the murder goes unsolved, and each young person believes the other's father is guilty.

"Told in...more
Bonnie Brody
Little Bird of Heaven is inimitably Oates. It has all her signatures - -the stylization of her writing, the focus on family narrative as destiny, and the mixture of pain and love. The stylized writing in this book is more pronounced than in some of her others. She repeats some things multiple times for emphasis and for varied affect. Initially, this bothered me but as the book progressed, I was so caught up in the narrative that nothing could deter me from wanting to turn to the next page.

As in...more
Mike Lindgren
With "Little Bird of Heaven," Joyce Carol Oates returns again to depictions of life in Sparta, N.Y., "the doomed city on the Black River." In this latest offering, the fading blue-collar burg has been rocked by the grisly murder of one Zoe Kruller, a troubled but charismatic country singer with a taste for seedy pleasures.

Zoe was found beaten and strangled in her bed in a run-down apartment on the wrong side of town. Estranged from her husband, she had been living in squalid semi-prostitution, a...more
Louise
I've read no writer who can create the feel of Western New York (my home region) with the precision of Joyce Carol Oates. She describes the look and feel of the highways, housing and bleak winter of Sparta, NY, perhaps a typical upstate small town. More importantly, she writes of the people who live there and the lives they make.

Here she tackles the aftermath of a heinous murder. She writes of its effect on the families of two men whom society has judged as guilty. These families had troubles be...more
Christina
Joyce Carol Oates has been one of my favourite authors for years now. Blonde was my first book by her and it was such an eye-opener for me. Her writing totally blew me away - and still does to this day. Her books are never easy, they are never nice and pleasant but they are important and interesting - and oh so well-written. She does this things with italics, telling us things her characters don't know, letting us know what the characters think when they look back etc.
This is not her best book -...more
Simone
when i was in high school i read a lot of joyce carol oates. as one of my professors commented: "that's young for most of her stuff. i've come to think i was probably too young to appreciate a lot of it, and living in syracuse i'm especially interested in her books about upstate new york.

however, this book was not for me. the repetition and stream of conscious writing bored me. the first part is told in first person from the girl's point of view, and the second section told in third person poin...more
Jody  Julian
God, I love Joyce Carol Oates. I was wavering between a 4 or a 5 star but I have to give her my top rating. She's up there with Margaret Atwood for me.
This is a very raw and brutal portrayal of a memorable cast of characters who want to escape the small town despair that hangs over their heads like a chemical haze of toxic gloom. It's almost Shakespearean as the saga unwinds in dark twists and turns.
Krista is just a young teen when her dad is accused of murdering the one bright light of Spart...more
Katsumi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ann Douglas
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Kolleen
This book was such a disappointment! We Were the Mulvaneys is one of my favorite books and I've avoided reading any of Oates' other books because I knew they couldn't compare. I saw this one in my book club and thought it might be as good as the other. Wrongo!

The book is about two families that are torn apart when they become suspects in the murder of the town prostitute. The book shifts from each suspects family and the implications that came from this murder. Although this sounds like a great...more
Mariano Hortal
"Ave del paraíso" de la gran escritora norteamericana Joyce Carol Oates. Y me encanta empezar con ella porque no paro de recomendarla, no hagáis caso a los intentos de la editorial actual que la publica de hacernos ver que es un libro romanticón a lo "noraroberts" o cosillas al estilo... no tiene nada que ver. La muerte de una chica en un pueblo pequeño de Estados Unidos es el pretexto que la escritora utiliza para mostrarnos al mismo tiempo una crítica a la sociedad, la justicia y la incapacida...more
Becky
So I picked this book up from the library since it was a new book - I'd read one other book by Joyce Carol Oates and liked it, so I figured this would run in about the same vein.

I got through about 3 chapters before I was so bored and uninterested that I knew reading the whole thing would be a waste of my time. The first three chapters seem a blend of stream-of-consciousness thinking and memories of the main character, that rather than working together to create a mental picture of the character...more
Judyarzt
Not as good as most of Joyce Carol Oates's other books. Set in upstate NY with a host of shady characters, two of whom are implicated in the murder of a sordid, but sad drug-addicted woman's murder. The novel focuses more so on the daughter and son of the two men who are suspected by the police of committing the murder. Although the book is not as good as I would have liked, I read it in two days; Oates has a way of drawing the reader into the characters' lives as well as the plot and details of...more
Joan Colby
When one is as prolific a writer as Oates, there are sure to be hits and misses. Little Bird of Heaven, unfortunately, is one of the latter. A disappointment, as when Oates centers her tales in upstate New York, she usually evokes both setting and character effectively. This novel fails particularly in creating sympathetic and convincing characters. Oates device of repetition which normally works well, is intrusive here. The magic she oft-times operates in immersing the reader in the story, is...more
Estibaliz79
Más de una vez he leído por ahí que Joyce Carol Oates es una de esas eternas candidatas al Premio Nobel. ¿A qué están esperando? Está claro que esta mujer sabe escribir y domina la narrativa como pocos... y ello sin caer en el tedio.

Este 'Ave del Paraíso' es ciertamente cautivador y absorbente, lo que algunos llaman un pasapáginas, y las voces de sus dos narradores y protagonistas principales están muy logradas. Una gran historia que no deja indiferente, y tan nutritiva que ni siquiera el final,...more
Susan
I like Joyce Carol Oates books the way I like a too-heavy blanket on the bed when it's cold outside. You know you're going to get sick of it three-quarters of the way through the night. You know it's going to be too heavy to flip off the bed easily, so you're wading through folds upon folds of heaviness, but there's something so satisfying about being wrapped up in the massiveness of the blanket itself.

In other words, Oates is one wordy author. She's got some deep insights to share, but they're...more
Bob Lakeman
Gore Vidal once said that the 3 saddest words in the English language were, "Joyce Carol Oates". Great sound bite by Vidal who was himself a writer of much renown. Vidal also quipped after the passing of Truman Capote, "great career move". When you're right you are right.

Oates is more a typist than a writer, but in Little Bird on a Wire she is on a roll.

I liked this book. It was fun and easy to read. Sometimes I need a book to just be EASY and Joyce never lets me down.

After picking up this book...more
Jason M.
In the time it will take me to write this, Joyce Carol Oates will have written twenty or so more books. Imagine how much she could get done if she didn't ramble so much. There's a lot of good in here, though. It deserves three and a half stars, I'd say.
Lee D'anna
It's been awhile since I have read a book by the very prolific Joyce Carol Oates and her style of writing has not changed. In Little Bird of Heaven, she delves relentlessly into how the lives of two children are profoundly affected by the murder of the mother of one of them. They are drawn together like a moth to a flame. Her writing is gritty and at times a bit disturbing as she describes the disintegration of these two family units while also exploring racial tensions between Caucasian and Nat...more
Diana
BLERGH.

1. How can anyone write a novel this repetitive yet it becomes a bestseller? Also, nothing happens in this book. Literally. Nothing. Happens.

2. The only part worth reading (or in my case, listening to) is the latter half of Part III. If you're still not convinced and decide to commit, just skip the first two-thirds and start here. You'll thank me later.

3. The main character Krista's obsession with her father is gross. I get really, really uncomfortable hearing "Daddy" over and over again...more
Emily
Jul 13, 2014 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Emily by: library book sale
I honestly can't remember if this took over six months to read but I've lost track of time and haven't done a very good job updating my lists here! I do know that it seemed like this book stayed on my nightstand for quite some time. I initially picked it up at the end of my local library's book sale...one of those fill a bag for $1 kind of sales. I've read (and enjoyed) Joyce Carol Oates other books so I figured it was a safe bet. I'm not sure if this was a case of wrong time, wrong circumstance...more
Judith
Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates brings it all together – mystery, romance, vivid rust belt realism, family struggles, and petty small town spite. In the fictional city of Sparta, New York, we meet 11-year-old Krista, whose Daddy cannot live with her family anymore because he is a “person of interest” in a homicide – the brutal murder of beautiful Zoe Kruller – and because, as he finally had to acknowledge, he and Zoe were lovers. In time, we come to understand Krista's fascination wit...more
Krista
I think that I should say bluntly This was the time in my life, I fell in love with Aaron Kruller.

There would be a way of composing this that would allow the reader to understand She is in love with that boy. She will be so humiliated, she will make such a fool of herself, can't anyone stop her! -- a way of indirection and ellipses, not blunt statement; but I want to speak frankly, I want to say something that can't be retracted Yes I was in love with Zoe Kruller's son, the first time in my lif
...more
Ruby Barnes
This book was a wonder to me. A wonder that I enjoyed it so much, bearing in mind that the pivotal event is handed, pre-announced, to the reader. The rest of the book circles around this event, delivered mostly in two narratives that move in towards it, away from it and then meeting back up at the end. I gave Testimony by Anita Shreve a low score and that followed a similar format. Why then is Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates a more enjoyable read?

I found the author’s style off-putting...more
Kasa Cotugno
I have been reading Joyce Carol Oates since the 70's and have been amazed at her prodigious output, her ability to tackle different literary styles, and the quality of her work. She has written under pseudonyms, burst forth volumes of short stories, and still manages to hold a teaching position at Princeton. Where she shines above other novelists is her ability to probe the innermost heart of a character, whether Marilyn Monroe (in her audacious "Blonde"), or Mary Jo Kopechne (in her equally aud...more
Mama Kaye
This is the seventh book by Oates that I've read, and my least favorite. I was very disappointed. I found the first section to be okay, but not great. It is told in first person, from the point of view of Krista, but apparently told as an adult, looking back on the events of her childhood and youth. The second part of the book is told from the point of view of Aaron, the young man. However, it wasn't in first person, so the book seems a little off-balance. Part 3 returns to Krista's first-person...more
Shane Malcolm
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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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“How mysterious it is, to be in love. For you can be in love with one who knows nothing of you. Perhpas our greatest happinesses spring from such longings-being in love with one who is oblivious of you.” 39 likes
“Why you can't trust women. Even young girls. Can't know what the fuck they are thinking, can't know what they are feeling, can't know how they will surprise you except to know it won't be a surprise you will like.” 26 likes
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