“We Were the Mulvaneys” by Joyce Carol Oates
This book floored me.
It’s been sitting on my bookcase for over a year, huddled with the other J.C.O. books I own and have actually read – “A Garden of Earthly Delights” , “A Widow’s Tale”, and “The Gravedigger’s Daughter” – but, for some reason, I’d held onto it but hadn’t opened it yet. Maybe it was the plot – something about a family tragedy – that made me, a newish mom, not feel ready to take this particular journey quite yet.
I’ve taken the journey, and geez.
“We Were the Mulvaneys” is a heart-breaking work, and a wonderful illustration of the sheer talent of Ms. Oates. The saga of a seemingly perfect , loving family in a rural town that finds their very being shaken to the core after a terrible event, “..Mulvaneys” showcases the sometimes subtle ways that bad things happen to good people, and change the rest of their lives. Parents don’t always behave right, people keep terrible secrets, and everyone goes a bit crazy sometimes. The Mulvaneys – warmest of families become strangers, grow apart from each other, and test the notion of whether blood is thicker than water.
It’s so good. I couldn’t put it down. I read it while getting a pedicure, and on the bus, and while being circled by a playful toddler, and it held me captive. It’s never leaving my bookcase. Ever.