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Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You

by Joyce Carol Oates

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Simply awful. Could not even finish it - especially after this:
"...at her heaviest, she'd weighed 119 pounds -- horrible! (Nadia was just five feet four inches tall.) By the start of the fall term she'd managed to get her weight down to 111, which was still high -- her goal was ninety-eight..." (p 201)

Nadia had been described as chubby, round, flabby, etc, and when I got to that description, I just lost it. I tried really hard to plow through, though. I assume that though it is the narrator speaking, the voice is tinged with the self-criticism of the character, and therefore unreliable. However, I could not finish what was already an extremely mediocre read.


small nit pick: I don't think there are ANY contemporary rich NJ teenagers who wear straight leg jeans and sweaters from The Gap. ( )
  rabbit_winner | Apr 23, 2014 |
Due to copy and paste, formatting has been lost.

Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You was one of the most frustratingly good books that I have read in a long time. It was frustrating because the language was weird-- a mish mash of italics, parentheses, and run-on sentences. It was good because I felt like I could relate to Nadia and Merissa, and maybe even Tink in my own way.

They are three very different girls with very different problems, but they all relate to each other, and they all knew each other. I say "knew" because Tink is dead, from suicide. But we get to know her too, as the book plays out-- she's always in the background.

The first half was all about Merissa, who's problem is that she's anorexic, and that she cuts herself. I can't relate to that, but I appreciate a character who has a problem and doesn't seem all fake and forced. In a weird way, I actually adored Merissa. It's clear from the very beginning that she has some serious problems, but it was nice to read through her eyes and to find out why she does it.

The second half moved onto Nadia, who I honestly didn't like as much. She was whiny and very easily lead. Which is how she gets into trouble-- like Merissa, she's super worried about her weight, but she resorts to extreme dieting. I don't understand the urge to just not eat, but if they...sigh. Nadia's other problem would have to be that she's constantly seeking approval, and she get's a largely inappropriate crush on one of her male teachers-- needless to say, it doesn't turn out well.

This entire book could be summed up like that: it doesn't turn out well. I'm not sure that either of these girls had any real character growth, nor did they seem to resolve their problems-- life threatening problems, at that!

I also don't think that I understand these girls. They're kind of obsessed with Tink, to a degree. All in all, this book could be described as confusing. ( )
  MVTheBookBabe | May 13, 2013 |
Joyce Carol Oates books generally focus on the vulnerability of women and what can happen to them when they least expect it, especially if they wander into situations or places they are physically or emotionally unprepared to handle. Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You, the author’s latest Young Adult novel (said to be appropriate for readers 14 and up), is a cautionary reminder that women first enter this danger zone as girls – when peer pressure and a desire to “fit in” make them especially easy targets.

The novel is divided into three interconnected sections. The first part focuses on Merissa, a Quaker Heights Day School senior who is on a roll. She is, in fact, doing so well that her friends have taken to calling her “The Perfect One.” Merissa seems to prove their point when, two weeks before Christmas, she learns that she is the only one of her classmates to have snagged an early admission to Brown University, one of the schools most prized by her peers and teachers.

The second section of the book is a flashback to the previous year when Tink, a former child actress, made her debut at Quaker Heights Day School. Tink has a mind of her own – and no friends until the day Merissa and her group ask Tink to join them at their lunch table. Soon, mostly because of her independence and seeming indifference to what others think of her, Tink earns the school’s respect and her friends have taken to calling themselves Tink, Inc. Then, as if to spite her soap opera actress mother, Tink kills herself.

Part three of Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You concerns Nadia, another member of Tink, Inc. Nadia, during one night of drunken partying seems to have done some things she is probably lucky not to be able to remember. Now, having been labeled a school slut for the remainder of her senior year, she is being cyber-bullied and harassed in the school hallways by friends of the boy she believed would keep their secret.

Tink may be gone, but her friends still call upon her for advice and claim to feel her presence when they most need her reassurance. Because of their “what would Tink do” approach to life, Tink still “speaks” to them and helps them through their worst days. Merissa, seeking relief from the intense pressure to excel, cuts herself and considers suicide. The level of social isolation and ridicule Nadia experiences is more than she can handle alone. But Tink still whispers to them.

Middle and High School girls will easily identify with the characters and situations of Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You. If they have not lived through similar situations, they almost certainly know of someone who has. The novel, perhaps because of the age of its target audience, does has a more optimistic ending than most Joyce Carol Oates novels. The relative ease with which the girls seem to pull their lives back together might seem unrealistic to adult readers – but Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You was not written for us. Its message of caution, hope and optimism is one that young women need to hear.

Rated at: 3.0 ( )
  SamSattler | Oct 9, 2012 |
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"When their best friend, Tink, dies from an apparent suicide, high school seniors Merissa and Nadia are alienated by their secrets, adrift from each other and from themselves"--Provided by publisher.

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