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Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  7,039 ratings  ·  459 reviews
The time is the 1950s. The place is a blue-collar town in upstate New York, where five high school girls are joined in a gang dedicated to pride, power, and vengeance on a world they never made - a world that seems made to denigrate and destroy them.

Foxfire is Joyce Carol Oates' strongest and most unsparing novel often engrossing, often shocking evocation of fema
320 pages
Published (first published August 13th 1993)
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Mary Rodriguez-Watson It's been years since I read this but I believe main themes are are friendship, feminism, sexism, and coming of age.

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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Caitlin Constantine
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love this book so much that I find it difficult to write about it without gushing. I mean, there is the obvious reason why, which is that it's about a girl gang that targets predatory men and boys - and of course, horrible pet shops - with a sense of prefeminist vengeance. Feminist vigilantism appeals to me on this base, primal level, even if I have problems with violence in general.

The book said a lot about the time and place in which everything took place. The sharp class divides, the socia
May 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Foxfire is the book that impacted me the most in Middle school. Take that as you must, but I'm happy to see that, unlike The Catcher in the Rye, it holds up reading it with adult eyes. Of course, now, 10 years older than the last time I read it, I find issues with some of the characters I loved as a teenager, but I can see a desperation and naivete I couldn't see before. This book is one of many that cements Oates into the the hall of fame of awesome American writers.
Nov 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: girls, women who run with foxes
Foxfire never says die.
I have a Tattoo, based from this Book and the Movie that followed,...that starred Angelina Jolie. ;)
It's the story of a group of misfit girls, who fight back. Yes, they are a girl gang, but they aren't the offshoot of a boy gang. They aren't the girls of some local hoods. They are the ones running the show.
You are my Heart, Joyce. Foxfire Forever.
Sep 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If rock'n'roll is your ideal, then this is a book you want to read. Not that Foxfire deals explicitly with music at any point, but Oates is able to distill that same electricity.

The story is set in the 50s, but, except for a few scattered cultural markers, it could just as easily be set in the contemporary moment. And I read it in that context. Nothing felt put on, or "for show." I've known women like the characters in this book, including some close friends I've gotten to know over the years. T
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
If I wasn’t reading this for a book club it would have been a hard DNF at about 30%. But I’m glad I finished it because it turns out it was fun to discuss it even if it wasn’t fun to read.

I don’t like stream of consciousness writing; it always seems to me to be more interesting for the author than for the reader, and this was a case in point.

The idea sounded good: a girl gang with a charismatic leader running rampant in 1950s upstate New York. Unfortunately the execution was pretty dull; skewe
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I see Joyce Carol Oates as being a heavy hitter in the literary fiction genre. She has written many books and they’re stuffed full of heavy themes.

In my mind I give her a sort of royal status of longterm women writers; she pairs well with Margaret Atwood. Oddly I have also given them masculine sounding monikers, as if they are athletic celebrities: J.C.O.!! Margaret F*_’-ing Atwood!! Real bro talk like.

The Firefox gang shown here is really something. Excellently, they’re all teenagers, and they
Oct 26, 2019 marked it as to-read
My dance teacher recommended the movie but I have to read the book first lmao
Aug 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Foxfire is a book that read itself. At first, I found the choppy stream-of-consciousness style hard to deal with. I had to re-read the first few pages several times. But after the first third, or so, I began to get a feel for the odd prose style. The run-on sentences, capital letters, and lack of punctuation dragged my eye across the page and made the book very difficult to put down. I read most of the last two hundred pages in a single sitting and can’t remember the last time I finished a book ...more
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a really fun and exciting read, my favorite JCO work thus far. Here, Joyce Carol Oates is at her best. With such a young cast of characters Oates is at full liberty to show the smooth transition between social marginalization in childhood and an adult life that was far from ideal, a life of thievery. The links between poverty, social marginalization, institutionalization, and crime are clear to those who have experienced them. Never have I found a work of fiction that combines all these ...more
Randy Mason
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book with its great characters of Maddy-Monkey and Legs Sadovsky. Often written in Oates' semi-stream-of-consciousness style (with the attendant lack of punctuation), it takes the reader on a wild adolescent ride with (as always) some points of social commentary along the way. It certainly provides its own irreverant take on "the sisterhood is powerful." As was the case with Oates' "Man Crazy" (though perhaps, I think, a little less so), this book may not be to everyone's ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Foxfire is absolutely riveting and incredible! I was hardly expecting it, but this tale of a 1950's girl gang taking on the world is full of surprises and very impressive.
Anna (Bananas)
Feb 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Joyce Carol Oates fans
Not quite 4 stars, more 3.5 ish. I liked the movie and then read the book. Ah, back then Angelina was so hot. Between Foxfire, Gia, and Hackers, I was smitten. Now her face annoys me. Go away already, Angelina.

Got off on a tangent. I remember the book being decent, if not entirely believable. This "gang of girls" was not intimidating whatsoever imo. And like with the movie, I wanted more overt examination of the queerness.
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Just 'eh.' Not as exciting as a book about a girl gang should be.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Was torn between giving this a 3 or a 4... Decided to go with the 4, as it's probably better than this God awful Portuguese translation.

Amy Andrews
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read in terms of theme, pretty much everything that always pulls me into a novel. I did, however, struggle at times to get into a flow due to the writing style.
Foxfire was very entertaining, and in some ways, it was exactly what I needed to read when I did. But something about it still fell short for me! I loved Joyce Carol Oates' writing though, and I feel like she would have definitley been my favorite author if I would have been reading her stuff during her prime. And I think she's someone I would for sure want to meet! Any woman who felt comfortable publishing such a rebellious story of young girls fighting back in 1996, I DEFINITLEY would want to ...more
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoritos
Every now and then you find an atmosphere created by a story like this that is so fresh and exciting and raw, so niche and unique, that it completely swallows you whole and drowns you in its presence, where it's all you can think about for days and weeks, wishing and wanting hopelessly to be back within its pages. I absolutely fell in love with this book, it didn't take long actually, (by the end of the back cover in the bookstore I had already given it my heart). It soon became everything I had ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gaypede Book Club Pick February

I have had a bit of time to think after hearing opinions at book club, and sadly I am still the odd man out. Within the first few pages I knew that the writing style wasn't for me. Those who know me know I am pretty Type A, and my brain likes things nice, neat, and logical. There are a few writers who can still engage me when they are jumping all over the place as long as I can see why. This for some reason was not one of those books.

Another large problem that I j
Really liked this one. It was like an all-girl version of Fight Club, set in 1950s New York. Strong female characters who are determined, and relentless, and stick to their convictions. They are teenagers, so some of their ideas aren't the brightest, but the core of the story is female empowerment in the face of sexism, and going against societal norms.
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The main character's name is Legs. There are other characters with equally appealing names like Maddy Monkey, Boom Boom, & Fireball. This is the story of an adventure of a girl gang in the 1950s. It is a fun read. Skip the bad 90s flick and read the book. You won't be sorry. ...more
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I'm getting a Foxfire tattoo unless somebody stops me.

If you're a stickler for grammar, you should skip this one. In fact, you should skip all fiction and just read the dicionary.

Update: I got that tattoo.
Emily Chen
Nov 03, 2015 rated it liked it
i wanted to like this a lot more than i actually did in the end. content-wise, it checks all the boxes -
vigilante girl gangs, a fierce heroine, sisterhood, etc - but the stream-of-consciousness narrative style drags, and the plot meanders and explores too many sidestories (all while foreshadowing a big event throughout much of the book).

for sure, the book has its good moments: the narration can be poetic, the characters admirable, and the sidestories endearing. i loved the rituals of the girl
Aurora Dimitre
This was--this was a fun one, this was an interesting one. I did enjoy it, even though it was difficult to get into a la A Clockwork Orange--not to the extent that they were speaking some pseudo-English, but in that the author had a very distinct writing style that she was very definitely going to power her way through, so you best get on her level.

But I liked it, and I'd be interested in picking up the movie, though from the trailer it looks... very unlike the book.
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was about 50 pages towards the end when I realized this book was NOT based on true events or characters. Something in Oates’s writing made me sure it was, even though it’s not mentioned anywhere, but these « confessions » felt so real and honest I just assumed it was based (even loosely) on a the newspapers stories of a real girl gang (even the town is fictional !). Foxfire burns and burns 🔥!

Edit: the switch from the « I » narrator to the « she » narrator is unsettling at first, but it is defi
DNF at 10%. I've had this book on my shelf for like 5 years but I'm not into it so now I can finally get rid of it.
Karen Robinson
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written for a younger reader, the narrator’s stream of consciousness voice was frustrating but the social justice, girl power theme made it impossible to put down. Loved the final chapters. Wish I had read this in high school.
Heather Duff
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Many wanted to ban this...girl gangs, sex, love, friendship was all too much for Father made me read it...probably the earliest feminist literature that I read. For that legacy, i am thankful to him and to Joyce Carol Oates.
Shelbi Stogdill
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Foxfire is an all out book of girl empowerment and feminism. Taken place in the 50’s and 60’s shortly after the 2nd World War. This book is written through the perspective of Maddy, who is 15 at the time the story is told and you later find out is an astronomer’s assistant reliving the days, and often switches points of view. It took place a lower class setting next to an upper class society. Much like the views of a city on a hill. Foxfire is a gang in the lower class society, but the first all ...more
Amron Born
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Foxfire is set in the 1950s, in a fictional city in New York. The girls living in this town are young, but they have already seen some of the horrors of the world they live in. The book is very purposely placed in the poorer parts of town, and the girls all come from lower class families who are all dealing with some pretty big issues, like abuse and alcoholism. This main setting is accompanied by the secondary setting of the richer families’ large homes. These contrasting settings mirror the co ...more
Sara Ann
Apr 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Overall, I liked this book and found the characters believable and the story engaging.

I liked Legs and Maddy. The other characters weren’t developed enough for me to have feelings for, aside from pity for Rita, but not the sympathy or heartache you might have for someone you know or care about.

Legs was my favorite character. She was independent, stoic, and headstrong, but still had the naivety and impulses of a teenager. She was a girl unchecked by adult reason or reassurance. She created her ow
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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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