Book review

Freaky Green Eyes by Joyce Carol Oates (2003)

Sometimes, when things start to go wrong in our lives, the easiest way to deal with it can be to ignore it completely and pretend that nothing is happening. Have you noticed that? A bit like the ostrich burying its head in the sand.

That's how it is for Franky Pierson in this story. She seems to have it all - a celebrity TV sports commentator father, a perfect mother, an architect-designed home and comfortable lifestyle. It seems she could want for nothing else. It certainly seems like that to her, until things begin to slip a little around her.

Franky's mother starts to spend time away from the family, little by little, building a new life around her work as an artist. Franky's father is one of those larger-than-life characters, determined to live life to the full. He's generous and loves his family. And he seems resentful that his wife is trying to separate herself from the family circle. Well, that's not unreasonable, is it? It makes Franky angry too. Of course it makes her angry, because her mother seems to be splitting up the family for no apparent reason, and Franky wants her mother back at home, where she's always been. Franky's little sister, Sam, obviously feels that way too.

So it's a while before Franky even begins to consider the reasons why her mother might be choosing to live alone. And when she does start to think about it, she doesn't like to delve too deeply into her own memories:

"Franky-girl, Sam-Sam: your daddy loves you, too. When you're good girls, not naughty."
We laughed as if we'd been tickled. Almost, I could feel Daddy's strong fingers running up and down my ribs making me squeal with laughter.
For Daddy had not disciplined either of us in some time. You could almost forget there'd been such a time.

This is a creepy story full of gathering tension. Franky seems to have two voices inside her head, offering two interpretations for every event. What you'll be wanting to know is whether she works out exactly what is going on in time to sort everything out...

You'll have to read the book, but I'll warn you now, it's a page turner, and it isn't a comfortable read. You might though, like me, overlook the first chapter which seems to serve no other purpose than to provide an irrelevant title.

Highly recommended!

What can I read next?

If you enjoy this story have a look at this one by the same author:

  • Big Mouth Ugly Girl

And if real-life emotional dramas are your kind of book, have a look at this tense story by Nancy Werlin:

Or this nerve-wracking one by Robert Cormier:

There's also this absolutely brilliant classic by David Klass about abuse within the family. I rate it as one of the best books of all time:

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