jess's Reviews > My Sister, My Love

My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates
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's review
Sep 10, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2009, audiobook-d
Recommended for: everyone
Read in March, 2009

JonBenet Ramsey, meet Joyce Carol Oates. She'll be fictionalizing your story in novel form, villanizing your villainous mother, resenting your presumptuous, arrogant father, and humanizing your brother in a way none of us could have imagined possible.

This book is not quick, easy, or "fun," in the conventional sense. It is excruciating, with tendrils of "true crime drama!" and the very genuine, painful psychosis of a child that grows up in "tabloid hell." It's a scathing portrayal of social class and children "stars," like Bliss Rampike, or her predecessor, JonBenet.

We follow Skyler from the Time Before Bliss, through Bliss's birth and transformation, her rapid rise, and even more rapid fall. After Bliss's death, things are over for Skyler. Everything is over. Finding his way back to himself is a ten-year journey full of questions, doubt, and ultimately, reconciliation. JCO manages to balance before/during/after Bliss's death with a poised gracefulness that gives a certain dignity to Bliss Rampike in death that she never achieved in life.

This audiobook ended this morning on my way to work, while I was sitting in 5 miles of 5mph traffic. I screamed "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" because, after 18 discs, I couldn't believe Skyler left me at the moment I needed him most. That Skyler, decidedly unreliable narrator, insecure and broken, held my heart after all.

I started reading this book almost a year ago, but it was due back to the library before I made it over the hump. The beginning is admittedly a little slow, but within the first 50 pages, the characters start to matter to you, and the pages turn faster. I ended up re-starting it on audiobook during my commute, which was delightful, save for one quirk: i really, really, really hate the way Mike Chamberlain says the word, "little." it sounds like, "liddle" and that word is in the book so many times ("brave liddle girl"). it's really a very minor complaint, and only affects the audiobook version.

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