Little Bird of Heaven: Book summary and reviews of Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates

Little Bird of Heaven

A Novel

by Joyce Carol Oates

Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2009
    448 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Set in the mythical small city of Sparta, New York, this searing, vividly rendered exploration of the mysterious conjunction of erotic romance and tragic violence in late-twentieth-century America returns to the emotional and geographical terrain of acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates's previous bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and The Gravedigger's Daughter.

When a young wife and mother named Zoe Kruller is found brutally murdered, the Sparta police target two primary suspects, her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her longtime lover, Eddy Diehl. In turn, the Krullers' son, Aaron, and Eddy Diehl's daughter, Krista, become obsessed with each other, each believing the other's father is guilty.

Told in halves in the very different voices of Krista and Aaron, Little Bird of Heaven is a classic Oates novel in which the lyricism of intense sexual love is intertwined with the anguish of loss, and tenderness is barely distinguishable from cruelty. By the novel's end, the fated lovers, meeting again as adults, are at last ready to exorcise the ghosts of the past and come to terms with their legacy of guilt, misplaced love, and redemptive yearning.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Oates unfolds the central gothic intuition—that beauty and the beast are complements—in a way that Charlotte Brontë would highly approve." - Publishers Weekly

"If only Krista's bloated narrative had had one-tenth the concentrated heat of Aaron's seemingly foreordained decline and fall. One-half of a masterpiece." - Kirkus Reviews

"Not Oates's best work, but her readers will find the psychological suspense combined with tragedy and redemption a good read." - Library Journal

"We end up more interested in the resolution of the teens’ pas de deux and their relationships with their persecuted fathers than in resolving the murder mystery—and, seemingly, so does Oates." - Elle

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Author Information

Joyce Carol Oates Author Biography

Photo by Marion Ettlinger

Joyce Carol Oates was born in Lockport, New York, in 1938 and grew up on the family farm where she developed a love of literature and writing. She earned a scholarship to Syracuse University and graduated valedictorian. She then took a masters degree, after which she started teaching at the University of Detroit where she met her first husband Raymond J Smith. In the late '60s, they moved to the University of Windsor in Canada, where they were co-editors of the literary quaterly publication The Ontario Review. In the late 1970s she took a teaching position at Princeton University where she is currently the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.

She published her first book in 1963, and has published over 40 ...

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