Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You

13 Aug

Their last year together. This year, without Tink.

It is only in the minds of our narrators, Merissa, the over-achieving golden girl, and Nadia, uncertain and innocent, that we get to know Tink Traumer, the mysterious girl who showed up one day at Quaker Heights High School and changed their lives forever. All of them. Merissa, Nadia, Chloe, Hannah and sometimes Anita Chang. But, now Tink is d**d.

Joyce Carol Oates writes the most chilling type of fiction, no matter what the subject, because she immerses her stories in reality. Two or Three Things could easily serve as a textbook for adolescent girls with the magnitude of issues Oates covers.  Suicide, cutting, anger, depression, divorce, bullying…Oates has always had a penchant for the gritty under the pretty. Yet, while dark and tragic, her stories are never without redemption or revolution, especially in the lives of girls. These girls are smart girls, wry and witty and conscious of, though not certain about, the way the world works.

“I heard from Tink today,” they whisper between classes, in secret text messages, or at the lunch table. Neither wants to talk too much about it for fear it is not real and speaking of it would only make Tink disappear more. And, they can hardly survive in a world without Tink. It’s Merissa and Nadia who are most deeply affected by the d***h of Tink Traumer. Merissa is undergoing a painful evolution in the wake of her parent’s impending divorce and Nadia has been bullied ever since making out with Colin. Slut, they call her as she walks down the hall, or in texts, or on the message boards. Tink was their fearless leader.

In her absence, Merissa is breaking and Nadia is drowning. Both are struggling with destructive obsessions and both are contemplating Tink’s choice, beginning to think it makes sense. Their minds are punctuated with memories of Tink and her d***h. Tink was a girl lost in her own life, who maybe they didn’t really know at all but who they loved. And who loved them. It’s Tink who’ll keep them safe. And, it must have been Tink Traumer who inspired Merissa’s (awesome!) awakening to rebellion by her rejection of Jane Austen and the lead role in the school play, Pride and Prejudice, because “I don’t respect the Jane Austen world. It’s just silly and depressing.”

Oates’ novels are always informed by a clear commitment to female relationships and I love how this novel celebrates the undeniable importance of girl friends. Writing like she is one of the girls, Oates is always on her character’s side and Two or Three Things is testament to love and sisterhood in which the girls rely on each other to figure out their healing.

Alicia’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Publisher: HarperTeen (August 21, 2012)
Note: ARC received from local bookseller

Two or Three Joyce Carol Oates Novels You Must Read

Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (1993):
One of my all time top ten list and definitely top five, possibly my number #1.  They are making a new movie this year. The old film from 1996 stars a young Angelina Jolie and is terrible.

Man Crazy (1997):
I read this book in my first Women’s Studies class and loved it. Just read it.

Because it is Bitter, and Because it’s my Heart (1990):
A love story between a white girl and black boy during the Civil Rights era in the American South. Heart wrenching, fact based fiction.

2 Responses to “Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You”

  1. Estelle @ Rather Be Reading 14. Aug, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Oh. I keep forgetting Joyce Carol Oates has written this book. I’m going to be honest. At my college, the professors had a love affair with her and I just could never finish one of her books. Maybe this is a cue for me to try again. 🙂

    You wrote this beautifully. I absolutely love it.

    Thanks for making me rethink this title!

    • alicia 15. Aug, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

      Thank you, Estelle! The first book I ever read was Man Crazy (also in college) and I loved it but Foxfire is by far my favorite.

      Let me know how it goes…

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