At times I like the spare, abrupt prose Oates sometimes uses. At other times I feel it distances me from the subjects. I had difficulty this time, not being able to connect closely to the rape victim, her daughter, or their unusual "benefactor". Nevertheless, I was compelled to keep reading.
This is a story of horrific violence, not only the rape itself but so far beyond. And not just violence that's physical, but perhaps the worst kind, the emotional kind, the type that separates people from a community that we'd hope would support them. The victim is from "the other side of the tracks", familiar ground for Oates, who grew up herself in poverty. She knows the ground well and at times forces us to look at our prejudices, as she does here. For this we can be grateful to this prolific and often deeply moving writer.