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Review: Missing Mom, by Joyce Carol Oates

Nikki Eaton is a 31-year-old woman who has a job working for a local newspaper, a married boyfriend, and more piercings than one can count. She lives 30 miles away from the house where she grew up. Her mother, Gwen, is the most likeable character in the book. A bleeding-heart type, Gwen takes in strays. Enter a young man out on parole from jail, who takes advantage of Gwen's hospitality, kidnapping her and then killing her in the basement of her home.

The book follows Nikki through the whole year after her mother dies. We meet her older sister, who increasingly gets frazzled as the trial gets postponed, and angry at the amount of stuff to clear out of their mother's house; there's Nikki's brother-in-law, Rob, who she's never felt completely comfortable with; there's Nikki's Neice and nephew; there's also her married lover, Wally Szalla, a local celebrity who is married with two kids of his own. There's also a police detective, who Nikki doesn't like at first, but increasingly comes to like. When the book opens, it has been four years since the death of Nikki's father, and Gwen Eaton has invited a number of relatives and friends over for a Mother's Day brunch.

This book has a kind of nervous, frenetic energy about it. Nikki is one of those characters who just can't stay still in one place. She's dessatisfied at some times; she's irritated and frustrated at others.

I greatly enjoyed Missing Mom. There was one reason I didn't give it five stars, however: the poor editing. At one point Nikki's brother-in-law's name switched from Rob Chisholm to Ron Chisholm.


bookchronicle said…
Yikes - there is always something about poor editing. For the most part I try to ignore it, but something like Rob to Ron could definitely be disturbing!

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