Charity's Reviews > Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart

Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart by Joyce Carol Oates
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's review
Jan 10, 2008

really liked it
Read in July, 2008

I almost gave this book 5 stars. After taking a while to warm up to the story and almost putting it aside a few times, I found that after about 150 pages, I couldn't put it down. During those first 150 pages, I couldn't relate to or find anything I cared about in the characters. I found them a little tiresome and confusing. I only kept reading because of Oates' prose style, which I find fluid and very appealing, and my experiences with Oates' work in the past, which have so far never disappointed (and also because I really dislike leaving books unfinished). Maybe I just had to get to know the characters, because I really connected with them by the end. The progession of the characters through their lives made sense to me, even as their lives took turns that weren't quite what I expected. But caring about and understanding the characters is part of why I ended up giving the book 4 stars.

Reading Oates' stories, I find myself really understanding the appeal of the unrealistic happy ending. Oates gives an accurate representation of the confusion and disappointment that comes when life doesn't live up to expectations. But sometimes when I willingly suspend my disbelief to delve into a novel, I want the story to not seem so true, and to be a little less ambiguous than life often is. Maybe it's not fair to give a 5-star quality book a 4 just because I'm in the mood for a rainbow in my rain storm, but that's what I've done.
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