We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
This book had been lying around for a long time on the shelf , when I finally picked it up to read it , it was because this was the first book that I could pull out on a rainy afternoon to while away my time. Now little did I know at that time ,that I would need more than an afternoon to finish this really beautiful piece of literature.
We Were The Mulvaneys..Odd choice for a title ,I thought. If they WERE then what are they now? What must have happened to them. You need to read a good 464 pages to see what happened to them and believe me you would want to know.
Story is set in 1970s chronicles the joys and tribulations of the Mulvaney family through the eyes of the youngest one ,Judd Mulvaney. A happy family is shattered on a Valentine’s Day when Marianne the beautiful daughter of Micheal and Corrine Mulvaney is raped by her senior at a party. Life is never the same again. Once a lively part of her group ,very popular Marianne is shunned by her friends ,family is looked down upon in the community. I know, what you must be thinking ,but it was 1970’s remember , so the social stigma still existed. The girl bears the brunt of the incident. Her parents distance her from them .This incident not only destroys Marianne life , it infectiously takes the life out of this family, it destroys a marriage. Eldest son Mikey Jr joins the marines , the second son Patrick hatches plans to get justice for his sister and the youngest sibling Judd ,our narrator is spectator to this family destruction. He says in the first few pages this account is like a family album ,something that his mom never kept during those days , only thing differing is ,its not all happy moments,its a full un cut account of his family’s grief.
The character I loved the most was Marianne . Her character if written today would have been given more tools to fight back after what happens to her but even without being the crusader who fights the system she endeared herself to me. Her decision of not supporting her father in filing a law suit against her rapist , makes her the victim of her father ‘s anger leading to being exiled. I wonder did her parents ever understand her? A soft spoken , beautiful girl , once loved by all ,she finds it difficult to like herself now. Some wounds take a really long time to heal and they aren’t all skin deep.
What was once a happy complete family is torn in to bits and shreds and scattered around. But can it be rebuilt again , after so many years ? Can they still be the Mulvaneys of High Point Farm ,that they used to be? To know that you need to read the book and find out.