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Little Bird of Heaven

3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  2,136 Ratings  ·  338 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

Hardcover, 442 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Ecco (first published June 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 11, 2011 Sarah rated it did not like it
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
This is the story of two American families - the Crullers and the Diehls, living in Sparta, New York. Their lives will be intertwined by the brutal murder of Zoe Kruller which will have two suspects: her husband, Delray and one of her lovers, Eddy Diehl. As one the consequences of this mysterious death, Aaron Kruller and Krista Diehl will become obsessed withe at other, trying to find the Zoe's killer.

In this novel, the author magnificently describes the American style of living in a small town
Oct 26, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: literature, put-aside
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
This book has done the unforgivable. It has put me off my porridge.
Bonnie Brody
Mar 03, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it really liked it
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
Joan Colby
Apr 19, 2010 Joan Colby rated it did not like it
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
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
Oct 26, 2009 Laurel-Rain rated it really liked it
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
Mike Lindgren
Oct 05, 2009 Mike Lindgren rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Dec 29, 2012 Louise rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 26, 2010 Christina rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2010
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 -
Jan 01, 2010 Simone rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010-read
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 13, 2013 Krista rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, audiobook
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
Ann Douglas
May 24, 2011 Ann Douglas rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Sunny Shore
Jul 04, 2016 Sunny Shore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was slow, but well written and all came together, woven expertly by JCO. In the end, I liked it a lot and it was very satisfying, looking back at the whole book, written in flashbacks. Eddie Diehl, family man, is handsome and worshipped by his daughter, Krista. He also has a married girlfriend, Zoe, on the side and she is eventually murdered. The story focuses on Krista and Aaron, Zoe's son. There is a lot of repetition but it is easy to immerse yourself in JCO's intense writing. I am ...more
Dec 02, 2009 Becky rated it did not like it
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
Dec 25, 2011 Judyarzt rated it it was ok
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
Lucinda K
Jan 27, 2013 Lucinda K rated it liked it
This is the tale of a murder, of two young people changed by the tragedy, and of their intersecting fates. As books in general go, it's a fine effort, but Oates has done much better work. The biggest problem I had with the book was that the first two sections move too slowly at times; we learn more about the daily events of the two main characters' lives than we would need to know to understand them well. Section 3 is brilliant, however, and the ending is just what I'd hoped for: it is beautiful ...more
Jun 19, 2012 Estibaliz79 rated it really liked it
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,
Oct 15, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-literary
Joyce Carol Oates is the American guru of family dysfunction and the nexus between social and family dynamics. “We Were the Mulvaneys” (1996) and “Carthage” (2013)—see reviews—are only two of her 40 novels, many with this theme. “Little Bird of Heaven” (2009) sits squarely in this oeuvre.

We meet our narrator Krista Diehl, now an adult, describing her family’s breakdown when she was a teenager in Sparta, a small town in upstate New York (Oates has an affinity for towns with names from ancient hi
Thomas Strömquist
Dark and unrelenting story of the gruesome murder of a woman and what is does to the people around her; friends, family, lover, the accused and the accusers. Told from multiple characters viewpoints and jumping back and forth in time; the actual events are few, the picture JCO paints becomes very clear. The book is repetitive and a bit drawn out in places, but if you write as well as this author you will be forgiven for this.
Feb 06, 2014 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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
Tristan Goding
Nov 03, 2015 Tristan Goding rated it it was ok
One of those books that one admires without actually liking because, frankly, there wasn't that much to really like. It's very artfully written, with a lot of delicate description and a loose quality that does make the reader feel like they're there, but in the end there just isn't that much to it. It's murder mystery about small town tragedy, but it's also kind of a love story. It's a miracle that the two blend here as well as they do. The second half of the novel is certainly better than the f ...more
Jan 16, 2016 Franny rated it it was ok
Oates' stories are always "a train wreck" - multitudes of strange, dysfunctional, emotionally-stunted individuals spiraling downward through their lives. "Little Bird of Heaven" is no different, except the weirdness has apparently overtaken Oates, herself. This is a story of two young people whose fathers are (separately) suspected of having murdered the boy's mother. It is a book in which no one - not the main characters, the secondary characters nor even the background characters - can be cons ...more
Annelie Bernar
Dec 18, 2014 Annelie Bernar rated it really liked it
Anche in questo romanzo l'autrice riesce a catturare fin dall'inizio l'attenzione del lettore e a tenere alta la tensione nel raccontare i fatti.La vicenda si dipana e scopre i suoi lati oscuri,chiarendo a poco a poco la vicenda e rispondendo alle domande solo nelle ultime pagine, in un continuo ritorno al passato e raccontando, attraverso le voci dei vari personaggi, prospettive e sentimenti diversi.Personaggi con situazioni disagiate, con destini già segnati, padri e madri pieni di contraddizi ...more
Stacey (wanderlustforwords67)
I really liked this book for the first 50 pages - then it droned on and on recycling information. 250 pages in I starting skipping chapters. This book could have been written in 100 pages (versus 440) Joyce Carol Oates is a great writer but this story is an epic fail because it's beaten to death.
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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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“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.” 42 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.” 28 likes
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