Man Crazy by Joyce Carol Oates

Summary: At five, Ingrid Boone loved her father with all the innocence and blind trust of childhood, believing him when he told her they would fly away in his favorite plane someday. But Ingrid’s young life is shattered when this affectionate, violent man who learned to kill in Vietnam abandons her and her beautiful young mother in the wake of a violent crime.

That is the day an essential truth vanishes from Ingrid’s life. Fleeing to a small mountain community, Ingrid grows up in isolation and learns not to ask questions when her mother takes up with a string of faceless men. Her only solace is the blissful daydream in which she and her father soar through the skies in his plane — an image that will continue to tantalize and torment her.

Desperate to recapture this lost love, hungry for any kind of mercy at a man’s hand, Ingrid allows boys and men to abuse her, searching for affection in the alcohol, drugs, and sex they offer. But it is with Enoch Skaggs, the charismatic leader of a murderous satanic cult, that Ingrid reaches the depths of degradation — and witnesses something she shouldn’t have seen. Yet it is in her blackest moment of despair — when she is marked for death — that Ingrid finds unexpected salvation … and the will to reclaim her life and her heart again

My Thoughts: Terrifying look into the mind of one extremely lost and desperate mind. Another perfectly scary and too-present, too-realistic novel from Oates. Her books always make me anxious and horrified, but I keep reading anyway.

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The Jigsaw Woman by Kim Antieau

COVER the jigsaw woman by kim antieauRating: 6 out of 10
Summary: Antieau’s amorphous debut, having no truck with orthodox novelistic ambitions, takes the form of an extended feminist polemic. Keelie, still healing and unable to talk yet, awakens to the realization that she’s a composite of three distinct individuals, surgically fused together. Her head once belonged to drowned Anna, her body is that of poor murdered Bella, while her dancer’s legs derive from suicide Lee. Keelie has been created by Victor to be his lover, and she’s attended by timid medic Griffin, psychiatrist Hart, and Lilith, Victor’s deformed wife.

All of these people, as the young woman’s experiences unfold, are shown to be related by blood or marriage, through space and time. Indeed, Keelie relives something of the miserable lives and sad deaths of the women whose hybrid she is. But before long she’s seized by the death-goddess, Eriskegal, and commanded to remember everything.

Soon Keelie recalls a time in the South American rain forests around the advent of Columbus, where she and the others live in idyllic circumstances—until a ship bringing Victor’s brutal and domineering father arrives to kill or enslave them all. Later, in a prehistorical matriarchy beset by vicious patriarchal invaders, Keelie must persuade her warrior lover, Victor, to reject his father and his horrific conquests. Finally, as she remembers

Summary: I have a mixed opinion about this. The ideas were good, the progression was good, and the characters were all interesting, although I’m still not 100% sure about Victor yet (who was an obvious reference to Victor Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s classic).

However it did get very preachy in certain areas, no subtlety at all. I alternately enjoyed and raised my eyebrows at the dialogue. Sometimes I liked Keelie’s spirit, but sometimes she bothered me as a character–again, too obvious, not very well fleshed out. The author was successful, in the end, of convincing me of the romance. Very sexual in some parts.

Very feminist. Great ideas, could have done with a little more work.

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

Rating: 6 out of 10
Summary: It all starts when Matthew observes a heroic scene in a convenience store: A man named Murdoch puts himself between an abusive father and his son. Matt is determined to get to know this man. And when, amazingly, Murdoch begins dating Matt’s mother, it seems as if life may become peaceful for the first time.

Matt and his sisters have never before known a moment of peace in a household ruled by their unpredictable, vicious mother. And so, after Murdoch inevitably breaks up with her and the short period of family calm is over, Matt sees that he needs to take action. He refuses to let his family remain at risk. Can he call upon his hero, Murdoch? And if not, what might his desperation lead him to do? From Barnes&Noble.Com

Commentary: Pretty in-depth Young Adult novel. Presents the complexity of abuvsive parents pretty well. Matthew was an interesting narrator and the novel in the format of a letter or narrative to his little sister was a good idea.

Mmm, not much else to say. Nice hero.