freaky green eyes

I’ve been impressed by Joyce Carol Oates as a writer before. Both of the other books I’ve read by her, The Tattooed Girl and The Falls were well-written, particularly in the character development. I enjoyed them, appreciated them, admired her skill, but never quite fell in love with them. It was kind of like seeing a painting in a museum that is both beautiful and technically well-executed and certainly worth studying, but not something you would ever choose to hang on a wall in your house.

But Freaky Green eyes? This I would definitely hang on my wall — so to speak. Freaky has both the relatable-ness and the depth that are so crucial to an enjoyable and significant YA novel.

Freaky Green Eyes is the story of fifteen-year-old Franky’s “crossing over,” the moving from the known into the unknown, as she defines it. The book opens with her discovery of an empowered sense of herself — her Freaky self, her inner Freaky Green Eyes — when she finds herself in, and then gets herself out of, a confrontational situation with a boy at a party one summer. But the majority of the novel takes place nearly a year later as she begins to see signs of tension between her parents. As Franky tries to figure out what’s going on between them, she also has to begin to confront her own feelings toward each of them — now complicated by Freaky’s insights.

Franky’s an enticingly complex character, and her emotional journey is honest and, at times, achingly raw. Oates shows the constant struggle that being a teenager is — the pull between childhood and adulthood, independence and loyalty, known and unknown, the wished for and the real, and, in Franky’s case, even between her mother and her father. Oates’ portrayal of these struggles is both sympathetic and transparent, allowing the reader to both feel for Franky without always agreeing with her actions.

I look forward to reading other YA novels by Joyce Carol Oates; after spending so much of her career writing for an adult audience, I find her ability to shift so completely into the mindset and tone of an adolescent to be remarkable. I hope to find her other adolescent protagonists just as engaging as I found Franky.

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~ by Molly on March 14, 2009.

One Response to “freaky green eyes”

  1. Just finished reading “Freaky Green Eyes”, very good book, but very scary! I’m too scared to go to sleep….

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