I am still figuring out why I enjoyed this book so much...it's not a plot heavy book, but rather an idea-stimulating book. One in which I could discuss with a book club. There are themes related to how much choice (vs. fate) we have in our lives, how much we have control over actions/words, class relations, race relations, gender relations. Ms. Oates tackled a lot in this book, and so although the plot itself was a bit depressing, I am very glad I read it. Plus, I enjoyed reading the authors comments that are at the end of this particular version of the book.