Andrea at Reading Lark's Reviews > Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You

Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You by Joyce Carol Oates
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Mar 31, 13

bookshelves: 3-stars, contemporary, arc, read-in-2012, young-adult
Read in August, 2012

Review Posted on Reading Lark 8/26/12: http://readinglark.blogspot.com/2012/...

I really appreciate the authors who step up and shine lights on some of the not so pretty aspects of being a teen. I applaud them for having the ability to show teens that they are not alone in their struggle. There is someone out there - even if it's just a fictional someone - that understands their pain. These novels are critical and contain lessons that teens need, but they are often heartbreaking and difficult to read. This was certainly the case with this novel. I felt like every time I opened the book a new dollop of depression would be heaped upon me, adding itself to the layers of tragedy and melancholy I had already digested in previous pages.

My heart broke for each and every character in this book. They are tackling issues such as suicide, depression, body image issues, eating disorders, self mutilation, dealing with divorce, sexting, and cyberbullying. It almost felt as if Joyce Carol Oates looked at a high school and decided to show every difficult issue that the students might encounter. There was so much going on in this book that I felt overwhelmed. Also, due to the serious nature of the plot, I didn't run home to read. This isn't one of those novels that you're excited to spend time with each day - it felt more like a necessary chore. As a teacher, I feel it's critical for me to understand these issues so I can recognize the signs should any of my students suffer from the same afflictions, but that doesn't always make it easy to read and digest. This isn't a shiny happy book although in the end I did get a sense of hopefulness. The main strength of this one is how it grabs you and refuses to let you look away without evaluating your daily interactions. How many students do I come in to contact with who seem perfectly put together on the surface, but are crumbling at frantic speeds inside?

One of my biggest complaints is the writing style. It's very sparse and the narrative tends to jump around a bit. This is not my favorite style of writing, but I am always open to pushing myself to try new writers and genres. I did eventually settle into the writing and was able to piece together how Tink, Merissa, and Nadia are connected, but it did take some effort on my part. I didn't feel truly connected to any of the girls - I was more of an outside observer. There were times were I felt almost guilty for being a witness to some scenes.

This is a novel that holds valuable lessons, but be sure to be in the right frame of mind for it. This is not a book I would recommend after a rough day or when you're not feeling particularly chipper. I do appreciate that this felt more "literary" than the typical YA novel. Seeing such a different style of writing can help readers hone their skills in tackling complex narratives.

One Last Gripe: I could never quite figure out who the narrator was in Part II which annoyed me

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I liked seeing Merissa evolve from being broken to standing up for a friend and becoming an encouragement to someone else who was hurting

First Sentence: "Merissa! Congratulations!"

Favorite Character: I didn't have one

Least Favorite Character: Merissa's Dad
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