Missing Mom
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Missing Mom

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  2,679 ratings  ·  303 reviews
last time

Last time you see someone and you don't
know it will be the last time. And all that
you know now, if only you'd known then.
But you didn't know, and now it's too late.
And you tell yourself

How could I have
known, I could not have known.
You tell yourself.
This is my story of missing my mother. One
day, in a way unique to you, it will be your
story, too.

From Joyce...more
Published October 4th 2005 by Ecco
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I've read a couple of unfriendly reviews here, and I wonder why people need their protagonists to be flawless. This book follows Nikki Eaton as a self-absorbed, single-but-dating-a-married-man wild child through the discovery of her mother's murder and the year of grieving and discovery afterwards. Sure, she's a flawed character, but I still found her sympathetic and compelling - I also appreciate authors that paint realistic portraits of people and can still manage poignancy. People are complic...more
Kristy Buzbee
Missing Mom was a very emotional book - in a good way. The main character Nikki is a thirty-something, independent woman who thinks she really has no need for her mom, and her mom's attempts to stay in touch and stay connected are just a hassle. But when she loses her mother in an unexpected and horrible way, she realizes just how important her mother really was. This book chronicles the first year after her mother's death, and how she (and her other family members) cope with tragedy. It takes o...more
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
I picked up MISSING MOM a few months after my own mother passed away, and put it down. Her death was too fresh for me to read Joyce Carol Oates tribute to her own mother. Looking at the different reviews of the novel, many readers say that this is a departure for Oates. I have no clue, since I’ve never read her before; but I was still intrigued by MISSING MOM and finally read it.

Nikki Eaton is a reporter for the Beacon. She is hip. She wears her multi- colored hair short as her skirts are. She i...more
Gosh i just could NOT get into this one! I gave it a solid try, too. There was something really off about the main character's descriptions of herself. Forced, rather second rate. Bummer!
‘It was the fate of mothers, to remember. What nobody’s else would know or care about. That, when they are gone, goes with them.’ (p. 397)

If you follow me, you’ve probably heard me mention Joyce Carol Oates a couple of times or more. She is one of my favorite authors. I’m not only impressed with her abilities as a writer, her way of using language, punctuation, italics as emphasis and much more but also her productivity and her constant high writing standard. I’ve never read a bad book by her. S...more
This was a really interesting perspective. This book was recommended to me, and I read through it quickly. I felt it really pulled you in and made you kind of feel as though you were living the experience through the characters. As a young person who has lost a parent, I could identify with what the author was trying to put forth, but also embraced that the grieving process is very different for each person. This was apparently in the book by the various people in the book who recounted their ow...more
This book describes the life of a typical American family and how they learn to mourn their loving parents.

Even if the theme seems quite depressive since the author managed to describe in a realistic way and with some sense of humor what people normally do after a sudden death of one of their parents.

It seems that this book reveals the author's own experience after the recent loss of her mother.
The only other book I've read by Joyce Carol Oates was the depressing tome We Were the Mulvaneys. I thought this was going to follow in the same genre but it did improve on reading.

The story deals with the unexpected violent death (two days after Mother's Day) of middle aged mom, Gwen Eaton, as seen through the eyes of her immature, selfish 31 year old youngest daughter Nikki, an independent journalist who freelances with a local paper.

I found Nikki's ruminations to be grating and boring at tim...more
This book reminded me so much of We Were the Mulvaneys. I really liked this book. I loved the character Nikki. Despite some of the reviews which suggest she lacked depth, or was too flawed, I found a unique relation to her. I think she represents a certain selfishness inside of us all. We tend to forget our parents had lives before we existed. They had hopes and dreams and secrets that we were not a part of. Our parents were individuals. I think there is a selfish tendency in us all to take for...more
Steve Betz
Missing Mom was a novel written in the aftermath of Oates’ own mother’s death. In it, Nikki Eaton, a sexually promiscuous “free spirit” in her early 30s deals with the unexpected death of her mother, who was a pillar in her upstate New York town.

In Nikki and in Chataqua Falls, Oates returns to the types of characters and places that have defined so much of her writing. A somewhat directionless woman, who is often the object of others actions and priorities: her mother’s ministrations, her contro...more
Bookmarks Magazine

"This is my story about missing my mother," Nikki says at the start of Missing Mom. "One day, in a way unique to you, it will be your story, too." Although many critics compared Missing Mom to Oates's classic, We Were the Mulvaneys, they agreed that the latter is the far superior work. Reviewers thought Nikki inconsistent and uneven; other characters came off as flat. Only the mother remained in their minds as a magnificent, realistic character__one of Oates's best to date, in fact, since Oates

Joyce Carol oates has been one of my favorite authors. Missing , Mom just makes me love her even more.Interesting story that studies the psychological impact of losing one's mother. Its the truth... that no matter how independent and grown up we become , one's mother remains a strong presence in our lives.
I absolutely loved the main character in this book, and the dialogue between the middle-aged ladies in the story was so realistic I almost threw a fit. This was an amazing book, which is not surprising considering the author.
Stacy Saunders
Here’s to moms. Without moms, where’d we all be?” quips Nikki Eaton, toasting her mother Gwen on Mother’s Day. Two days later, Nikki is suddenly, though an act of inexplicable violence, without her mother. This novel tells the story of Nikki’s first year missing her Mom. It is a year of moving back into her mother’s house and wearing her mother’s clothes. It is also a year in which Nikki discovers some startling secrets of Gwen’s past. These revelations are difficult for Nikki to reconcile with...more
Jim Leckband
I'm not sure Oates has a target audience, unlike some authors. Her work is so divergent that pinning a label or genre is useless as her next book may be entirely different. But with this one I feel a little bit out of the target audience: as of this writing I am neither a mom nor a daughter.

There is the trademark Oates violence, it is rare that a book of hers doesn't have a violent event. But what this book mostly is about is the intriguing story of how a daughter finally comes to know who her...more
Cathy Telzrow
I am enjoying this read. Joyce Carol Oates is amazingly prolific, & I have had mixed reviews about some of her other novels. This one has good character development ...not quite as much depth as Anne Tyler, who is my all time favorite at this aspect of the novel, but quite good nevertheless.
Eh. It's a good detective story I guess. I had her for a class once and thought she was much more intelligent and acerbic when speaking. She referred once to loneliness in a way I really liked: "I don't anymore, but I can remember how it felt to be that lonely, to feel loneliness like a missing limb."

Actually, my favorite part of this book comes at the end, an interview she's granted as one of those book fillers they add so they can write: "P.S. Insights, Interviews & More Inside!" on the co...more
Okay, first of all....let me say I'm confused. My copy of the book is called MOTHER, MISSING. It does not appear to be an ARC, so it's mystifying to me. I bought my copy last month at a used book store in Canada. (I live in the US, but I try to spend a few months in Toronto in the summers.) The novel reeled me in. I am quite the JCO fan, and kept reading this book, enjoying it but not caught up in it, thinking to myself I'd likely rate it a 3 and a half stars if Goodreads had such an option. But...more
I read this book right after my mom died and while it was hard to read about someone else having that happen so soon after I did, it put things into perspective for me. She could have died in a way like the mother in this book did and I was lucky that never happened. Also, it reminds me of a joke my uncle made when he saw it.
(He looks at the title)
"Sarah, your mom is not missing. We know where she is."
And that was the first time I laughed since she died:)
It's been many years since I read one of Joyce Carol Oates' novels. I started reading this book as I have been recently interested in stories about mothers and daughters and the tensions that sometimes exist in this relationship. At first, I thought I could not relate to a story where the mother was so nurturing and giving and what is this 31 year old woman rebelling against? We have Gwen, the seemingly perfect housewife/mother who is nurturing towards her two adult daughters and very involved i...more
Nicole Gauthier
This book was a good quick read. I've come to the realization that I tend not to like Joyce Carol Oates's characters until the end of her books. They tend to redeem themselves for the conclusion but for most of the story I have a hard time identifying with them.
This book just never got going...it went on and on and on and on. Until finally it was done. Mom's have secret lives. They collect notes from their kids. Then they die and the kids learn about the secret lives and find the notes. Oops - was that a spoiler?
Julie Christiano
Feb 04, 2012 Julie Christiano rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Lisbeth Ball and Sally Trietley
Sad and true. Some pages are breathtaking true and painful. I was engulfed in the story and reality of the loss, though the main characters were not to my liking. But with JCO's narratives, that does not hold back the experience.
Bryan Ball
One of my personal favorite Joyce Carol Oates novels. It's ultimate message that the day is never saved-- as another review unforunately missed out on-- in grief, is one of her best and most heartbreakingly constructed.
Joyce Carol Oates does a nice job with language: her prose is simple and it never appears as if she's trying too hard; her dialogue is canny and sensible, and the pacing is just right...all of which makes her writing easy to read. Nikki Eaton is a believable character (as are all the others in this book, especially her sister Clare and Detective Strabane) with just enough detail and attention to the minutiae of people's daily lives, in the vein of one of my favorites, Stewart O'Nan, to give this...more
This book was so personal to me. Sobbed many times while reading on the beach. It was a wonderful, but emotional read.
Missing Mom lacks the depth and much of the angst of many of Oates' novels (even though many of the elements feel familiar).
One of my favorite Joyce Carol Oates novels, and that is saying much, because I love all of her books. It is haunting.
This is the second time I've read this book since I don't / can't quite recall the first time. I am simultaneously reading Cathage (her latest). Interesting since both are about two sisters but Oates uses the pretty man magnet Niki in Missing Mom and the viewpoint in Cathage is from the younger, plain sister.

I found Niki to be unlikeable. So much so this time that I could not relate to her at all. Also, what I found interesting was how she started to transform into her mother which def. made it...more
Cheryl Klein
This is the first full novel by Joyce Carol Oates that I've read; for some reason I thought it would be really severe--isn't that what she's known for?--but the style is surprisingly...regular, for lack of a better word. There are a few stark, chilling moments as Nikki Eaton describes (spoiler alert, but isn't Oates known for violence too?) finding her mother's murdered body, but this is no Law & Order episode. Here criminals are "always stupid," according to the detective on the case, the l...more
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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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