I only read reviews about this book by Joyce Carol Oates after I had read it and then found out it was meant to be a satire about middle class America. Not being a good literature student I missed all of the clues. One of which was the names of the characters and their neighbors which were all mean and violent (Rampike, O'Styker). Another was the over-the-top psychiatric diagnoses of the children and the unbelievable number of drugs prescribed.
"Bix! Darling! God help us - Bliss is missing."
Loosely based on the murder of child beauty pageant princess, JonBenet Ramsey, six-year-old Bliss was found murdered in the basement of her family's house. Even though a neighboring sex offender admitted to the murder and subsequently hung himself in his jail cell, suspicion never completely came off of her nine-year-old brother, Skyler, who writes this memoir in the hopes that a memory would return to tell him who the real murderer was.
Skyler went from psychiatric facility to one boarding school to another, anywhere but home with his parents fueling the guilt that he must have somehow been responsible for Bliss' death. At the age of nineteen Skyler writes this book and shares with us every agonizing memory of his youth.
"...an adolescent Skyler the reader would be startled to behold: not a runt any longer, nor was Skyler's soul a runt-soul, for Skyler had learned at last the advantages of being a professionally afflicted kid of affluent background; amid the walking wounded of the Academy at Basking Ridge..."
It was very hard for me to finish this book. If I had know or realized it was a satire, it might have been less painful but I was determined to stick with this story to the end to see if there was any hope of Skyler finding any normalcy for himself. I'll let you read the book to learn if he was successful.
I think the only readers who would appreciate this book are Oates fans.
My rating for this book: +++