Saturday 29 September 2012

Daddy Love

Finished September 29
Daddy Love by Joyce Carol Oates

Dinah and her husband Whit have an exuberant 5-year-old son, Robbie. One day, as Dinah and Robbie are leaving a mall, Dinah is attacked and Robbie is taken from her. She struggles to follow, but is run over by the kidnapper's van, and left for dead. Dinah survives, but is left with debilitating injuries, and the police fail to find Robbie.
The novel has sections from both Dinah and Whit's points of view, but also tells us the continuing tale of Robbie and his abductor, from their points of view. Using threats, punishment and reward, Daddy Love aka Preacher aka Chester Cash gains control over Robbie, passing him off as his own son. Oates shows us just how he manages this on the impressionable, intelligent, young boy. The reader sees the process and understands it, even as they are screaming 'no' inside, rooting for Robbie to make his escape.
Two things stood out for me. One was the first few chapters, which repeated the kidnapping scene, each with different details and focus. This really struck me, as I could see how Diana would be going over and over it in her head, examining it for clues, holding onto memories. The second was the ending, showing the irreversible damage done to Robbie.
This book really shows what an amazing writer Oates is. A disturbing, enlightening, and highly original novel.

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