cover image Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You

Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You

Joyce Carol Oates. HarperTeen, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-211047-3

Merissa is the envy of all her similarly privileged peers, yet she also lost her friend Tink six months ago to suicide. While good things fall into place for Merissa (getting into a great college early, for one), neither she nor her friends can shake the loss of complex, audacious Tink, making her a significant influence even in death. Switching perspectives from Merissa to a collective "we" and then to the POV of a troubled girl named Nadia, Oates deftly conveys the ways teenage girls sometimes hide behind superficialities to disguise grief, insecurity, and fear%E2%80%94and how adults often do just the same. Oates creates an uncomfortable disconnect between characters' public actions and their thoughts and behavior behind closed doors. The formal prose style borders on stiff, with occasional use of outdated expressions (such as "bimbo"), but Merissa's desperation and longing for a sense of control is powerfully conveyed through her cutting and relentless self-effacement. The examination of teenage isolation, humiliation, and quiet suffering make this a painful, but excellent novel filled with haunting details. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. (Sept.)