Oates gives voice to all daughters growing up in dysfunctional familes.
Reviewed by Mark Frye, author and reviewer for TeensReadToo.com
Prolific author Joyce Carol Oates delivers yet again with FREAKY GREEN EYES. With a plot that gradually unfolds to expose a family's destructive private life, this book covers a topic touched upon by many but seldom handled so artfully.
As in her previous novels, such as WE WERE THE MULVANEYS, Oates unveils a family that is picture-perfect to the world at large but dysfunctional and horrific behind closed doors.
The narrator -- Franky -- unveils the true nature of her father slowly, shocking the reader by the level of her own denial, but is blunt with her criticism towards her mother, whom she views as weak and unloving for moving away. The reader will want to love Reid, the broadcaster and former football star, as the world does, but something is not "right" about how ordered he keeps his family. When their mother leaves, Franky and her younger sister Samantha have no buffer in their lives and begin to see their dad's true nature.
The strength of FREAKY GREEN EYES is Oates' narrator and manner of narration. Descriptions are scant and to the point, dialogue is crisp and revealing, and her use of foreknowledge keeps the reader feeling "edgy" until the climax. The reader sees Franky's world through the flawed understanding of a co-dependent child in an abusive home. Children in this type of environment react to the truth as they see it, not as it necessarily really is, and often quite illogically. In this regard, Joyce's "voice" for Franky is quite realistic. A girl her age would not be able to handle things any better than she does in this novel.
But Franky's strengths are as realistic as her shortcomings. Her growth as a character begins in the first chapter and continues to the story's conclusion. "Freaky Green Eyes" is the willful, strong side of her personality, first unveiled while fending off a rapist, a side she relies heavily upon as she begins to doubt her father's version of events regarding her mother's eventual disappearance. The realism of Franky's flaws and strengths gives her story strong appeal.
This is a masterful young adult novel about the sensitive subject of domestic violence. Readers will empathize with children growing up in such an environment after reading it. Highly recommended.
A page turner from start to finish, you could possibly finish it in one sitting. Just such a good book, the writing and the plot are just so well put together and the story itself is crazy. Crazy in a good way.