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Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You

Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You [Kindle Edition]

Joyce Carol Oates
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You is renowned author Joyce Carol Oates's newest novel for teens. Laurie Halse Anderson, bestselling author of Wintergirls and Speak, said that "the painful honesty of this book will crack open your heart."

Senior year, their last year together, Merissa and Nadia need their best friend Tink more than they ever did before. They have secrets they can share with no one but her, toxic secrets that threaten to unravel their friendship—and themselves. Tink had a secret, too, a big one, but no one knows what it was. And now she's gone. . . .

In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews described Joyce Carol Oates as "a master at portraying the inner lives of teens." In Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You, she's created a powerful portrayal of a friendship strong enough to transcend death.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 455 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; Reprint edition (21 Aug 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007ED2UHC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #360,502 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including 'We Were the Mulvaneys', which was an Oprah Book Club Choice, and 'Blonde', which was nominated for the National Book Award. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh so bleak! 21 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed other books by this author and I mostly read YA so this sounded interesting. But wow, has this author never met a teenager? It was unrealistic and tedious. Most of all it's just so bleak! I realise that self harm and suicide are not exactly laugh a minute subjects, but there's also no need to be so morbid about it. So if you like your books deadly serious, unrealistic and slightly condescending then buy this one and you'll be the only one who isn't disappointed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This haunting teen novel definitely deserves a wide audience 27 Aug 2012
By K. Corn - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm always on the lookout for the newest books by Joyce Carol Oates so I purchased Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You before I read any descriptions of it - including the fact that it was written for teens. I'm glad I missed that info because I couldn't stop reading this book even though my teen years are well behind me.

The book focuses on a group of adolescent women: Merissa, Hannah, Chloe, and Nadia, and their deceased friend Tink. Even though she is dead, it is Tink who is at the heart of this book, someone who is far from dead in the memories of the four women who knew her.

It is Tink and Merissa who are spotlighted in the first part of the novel. Merissa strives to do everything perfectly. She is associate yearbook editor, Drama Club president and has even gained early admission to Brown. She has been chosen to play the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet in a stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Things seem to be going so smoothly for her - a daughter who should make any parent proud. But Merissa's surface and outward appearance mask a darker side, one where she acts very differently. Her control is only an illusion and the cracks are definitely starting to appear.

As noted before, the other main figure in this book is Tink, almost palpably present to Merissa and her friends. Only Tink seems to know the secrets of each young woman. And Tink is not only remembered but seems to actually visit Merissa, Nadia, and the others. She haunts their dreams, seems to whisper in their ears.

They can't help but ask themselves what Tink would say and do when facing various challenges. And it is Tink who often seems to guide and encourage them as they navigate the very rough shoals of adolescence. In short, even in death Tink simply refuses to leave. She is at the heart of some pivotal events.

Readers may wonder - as I did - is Tink actually there or simply imagined? But it doesn't really matter. Including her is what makes the book a standout. Otherwise this novel could simply be one among many focusing on teens struggling with suicidal impulses, parental divorce, and even cutting. These are all serious issues but have been covered before in other books. Without Tink I can't imagine that the book would have engaged me so thoroughly.

Tink also doesn't seem to be purely a teen or an adult. She seems to be at some other stage of development, perhaps simply in between adolescence and adulthood - and with a greater wisdom than when she was alive. Tink fascinated me and I hope she intrigues other potential readers.

I confess that Joyce Carol Oates has not always written books which I like. Some seem too dense or slow and her tendency - at least as I perceive it - to veer so often towards extreme and violent events has sometimes bothered me. Other times it works. Perhaps I simply haven't read enough of her books or other writing.She is so prolific that it is hard to stay abreast of everything she writes. Even keeping up with her novels is a task!

But Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You completely won me over. It hit hard and never lost its pace. Currently listed as one of Amazon's Best Teen Books of the Month for August 2012, it deserves the attention. It can be unflinching and grim so parents might want to take note and consider if their 14 year old is mature enough to tackle the book. This is not some simplistic tale where the characters are warm and fuzzy but there are inspiring moments, particularly towards the end of the novel.

I'd also urge adults to read this one. Sometimes the label "teen book" convinces adults that a book isn't worth reading. But Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You deserves a broader audience.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars can't get enough of Joyce Carol Oates 7 Sep 2012
By JoyG - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most prolific and amazing authors of our generation. My goal is to read everything she has ever written, even if some of it is a bit weird - but, wow, can this woman write.

I am glad that I did not know;however, in advance, that this novel ( very short, by the way), was meant for teen reading. Teen reading certainly has become more graphic since I was a child, so many years ago.

Oates captures the heart of what it felt like even when I was young and insecure. Do you remember being a high school senior? She has such a way with language and raw, true feelings. I am always left wanting more, and was so surprised when I reached the end of this book, as I wanted to hear more about the lives of the characters - both the young people, and in the case of Nadia, more of her wealthy, controlling, and brutishly insensitive father. He is not unlike parents that we all must know, but Oates has such a way of drawing us into her characters, and really making us feel the angst of his teenage daughter.

It doesn't matter how old we are, we can still remember the anxiety of being young and in high school. Nobody captured it better than Joyce Carol Oates.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oates Understands the Young Adult Female--She's Done it Again! 18 Oct 2012
By Drennan - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You by Joyce Carol Oates

In Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You, a somewhat unconventional Young Adult novel, Joyce Carol Oates explores the pressures and experiences of the senior year of high school for several friends. First, let me say that I am always amazed that Joyce Carol Oates manages to produce the volume of work that she does. I am in awe that one woman is so prolific and that so much of it is just so engaging and well written. But it strikes me in reading and thinking about Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You that Oates's genius lies not in her ability to churn out words (although as a writer, I certainly envy her that) but in her understanding not just of human nature but of what motivates humans, especially women in American culture. We see this in her more famous, more serious, more literary works like Blonde and We Were the Mulvaneys, but here to Oates displays an understanding and sensitivity to the feelings and neuroses and traumas that plague women and young women in our culture, such as self-mutilation, suicidal ideation, body image issues, and eating disorders.
In what is clearly a Young Adult novel, Oates presents the high-pressure prep school world of friends Merissa, Nadia, and their recently deceased friend Tink Traumer. This is a world that lacks the glamor we have come to expect from series like Gossip Girl and instead shows the shadow side of the world of moneyed teen overachievers. This Young Adult novel lacks the sort of clearly delineated plot that some readers might prefer, focusing instead on several character-driven trajectories. Oates structure the novel by breaking it into three separate parts, each with a distinct point of view of one of three central characters: Merissa, Tink, and Nadia. By doing so, Oates invites us to focus on the girls and their emotional lives, rather than what happens to them externally. This then becomes a novel not about what happens but about how these girls respond and how they feel. This allows Oates the opportunity to explore in an authentic way the experience of being a teenage girl in contemporary culture.
Oates manages with thoughtfulness the very real emotional and psychological difficulties these girls face, self-mutilation or "cutting" being made to be particularly understandable. I think that for adults particularly it is easy to be dismissive of behaviors like self-mutilation and suicidal ideation, so prevalent really among young people. We tend to say to young women, "Just stop. Don't do it. Don't cut," not always realizing that there's a deep motivation behind the behavior and that the behavior fills some emotional void in the young woman. Oates's treatment of the theme allows us to understand and even empathize with what might otherwise seem such an incomprehensible choice. And it's precisely this kind of treatment of behaviors otherwise marginalize and labeled as neuroses and even pathological in our society that makes Oates remarkable. She takes that which we'd much rather dismiss because we want to ignore it and presents it in a way that it becomes not just understandable but something we can develop some compassion for, even if we continue to dislike the behavior.
As much as I like Oates's work and am drawn particularly to her novels which tend to be somewhat tragic, I am tired of the focus on the plight of the middle- and upper-middle class female. Certainly, this is a demographic I relate to. I understand the neurotic, prone-to-depression, slightly-anxious woman just trying to make her way in an upper-middle class world that feels hostile and threatening at every turn. But where is the sensitivity to those who truly suffer, to those even in the United States who are disadvantaged and abused? While Merissa, Nadia, and even Tink face difficulties that are both uniquely their own and are sadly prevalent among teenage girls in our culture--neglect by parents and emotional and psychological distress--I would like some acknowledgement that ultimately their position of privilege allows them opportunity to overcome these difficulties that the truly disadvantaged in our culture may not have.

NOTE: This review originally posted in a longer form at the book review website Luxury Reading.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What would Tink do? 9 Oct 2012
By Sam Sattler - Published on
Joyce Carol Oates books generally focus on the vulnerability of women and what can happen to them when they least expect it, especially if they wander into situations or places they are physically or emotionally unprepared to handle. Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You, the author's latest Young Adult novel (said to be appropriate for readers 14 and up), is a cautionary reminder that women first enter this danger zone as girls - when peer pressure and a desire to "fit in" make them especially easy targets.

The novel is divided into three interconnected sections. The first part focuses on Merissa, a Quaker Heights Day School senior who is on a roll. She is, in fact, doing so well that her friends have taken to calling her "The Perfect One." Merissa seems to prove their point when, two weeks before Christmas, she learns that she is the only one of her classmates to have snagged an early admission to Brown University, one of the schools most prized by her peers and teachers.

The second section of the book is a flashback to the previous year when Tink, a former child actress, made her debut at Quaker Heights Day School. Tink has a mind of her own - and no friends until the day Merissa and her group ask Tink to join them at their lunch table. Soon, mostly because of her independence and seeming indifference to what others think of her, Tink earns the school's respect and her friends have taken to calling themselves Tink, Inc. Then, as if to spite her soap opera actress mother, Tink kills herself.

Part three of Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You concerns Nadia, another member of Tink, Inc. Nadia, during one night of drunken partying seems to have done some things she is probably lucky not to be able to remember. Now, having been labeled a school slut for the remainder of her senior year, she is being cyber-bullied and harassed in the school hallways by friends of the boy she believed would keep their secret.

Tink may be gone, but her friends still call upon her for advice and claim to feel her presence when they most need her reassurance. Because of their "what would Tink do" approach to life, Tink still "speaks" to them and helps them through their worst days. Merissa, seeking relief from the intense pressure to excel, cuts herself and considers suicide. The level of social isolation and ridicule Nadia experiences is more than she can handle alone. But Tink still whispers to them.

Middle and High School girls will easily identify with the characters and situations of Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You. If they have not lived through similar situations, they almost certainly know of someone who has. The novel, perhaps because of the age of its target audience, does has a more optimistic ending than most Joyce Carol Oates novels. The relative ease with which the girls seem to pull their lives back together might seem unrealistic to adult readers - but Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You was not written for us. Its message of caution, hope and optimism is one that young women need to hear.
4.0 out of 5 stars Teens with Problems 20 Feb 2014
By Tim Field - Published on
As a high school English teacher, I read many young adult novels and many of them feature teens with horrendous real life problems. Joyce Carol Oates' "Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You" is a prime example of this genre, only loaded with more teen disorders than most recovery centers.

I can't say I enjoyed the book as it focused on awful teen social media and real life behavior, making high school seem like a cesspool of inhumanity. The main characters are all upper/ upper middle class who are wallowing in misery (for good reason).
That said, no can write believable misery like Joyce Carol Oates; she makes the most irrational behavior make total sense once you are in the mind of her characters. Oates' ability to inhabit characters who are flawed and even creepy and make them believable is astounding. She isn't afraid to explore the dark side of humanity, which can be offputting to many of her readers.

I think this book might be helpful to teens who are struggling with some of the issues in this book (cutting, eating issues, suicide, distant parents, nasty mob behavior, depression, father isssues - yikes!, the list goes on). Definitely not a light read.
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