BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

BookBrowse Reviews The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates

The Falls

by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  • First Published:
  • Sep 1, 2004
  • Paperback:
  • Aug 2005
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About This Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Juxtaposes a majestic and dangerous natural phenomenon with a man-made monstrosity. Novel

From the book jacket: Exploring the theme of a family torn about by external events, Oates sets her story around the majestic Niagara Falls and the less than majestic Love Canal area on the eastern edge of Niagara Falls.  

Comment: This is a fairly long book (one reviewer comments it has enough material for two or three books!) but well worth the read. I found the first 100 pages or so good but not gripping, but got totally caught up in the story after that.  All reviewers seem to rate The Falls as one of Oates' best books to date (and considering that she has published around 100 that is quite a claim - see Oates' bio at BookBrowse for a partial bibliography).  For example, the Washington Post describes The Falls as 'hypnotic', Booklist describes it as 'vivid and memorable', and Library Journal rates it 'highly recommended'.

Oates explains the historical background to the novel in a brief Q&A at BookBrowse. In this she confirms that the majority of the information in the novel about Love Canal is historically accurate. The original Love Canal was built by William T Love in the early 1900s with the intention of joining the upper and lower Niagara Rivers, creating an opportunity for hydroelectric power which would fuel the industry and homes that he planned to build along the canal. The project collapsed around 1910, and in 1920 the partially dug ditch was turned into a municipal and industrial chemical dump - and used by a number of local chemical companies to dump a variety of hazardous waste. In 1953 the ditch was covered over with dirt and sold to the city for $1. Soon about 100 houses and a school had been built on the site. Although there were reports of many critical health problems in the intervening years, the time bomb did not fully explode until the late 1970s when a record amount of rain triggered significant leaching from the dump, leading to what Eckardt C. Beck, local administrator of the US Environmental Projection Agency at the time, described as 'one of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American history'. Read his 1979 report.

This review first ran in the August 3, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Falls, try these:

  • Vandal Love jacket

    Vandal Love

    by Deni Y. BĂ©chard

    Published 2012

    About This book

    In assured and mystically powerful prose, Deni Y. Béchard tells a wide-ranging, spellbinding story of a family trying to create an identity in an unwelcoming landscape.

  • Doghead jacket

    Doghead

    by Morten Ramsland

    Published 2010

    About This book

    From a fiercely funny Danish John Irving, a bighearted, epic story of mad dogs, naughty boys, strange relatives, and family secrets.

We have 9 read-alikes for The Falls, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Joyce Carol Oates
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Blue Ruin
    Blue Ruin
    by Hari Kunzru
    Like Red Pill and White Tears, the first two novels in Hari Kunzru's loosely connected Three-...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman and a Thief
    A Gentleman and a Thief
    by Dean Jobb
    In the Roaring Twenties—an era known for its flash and glamour as well as its gangsters and ...
  • Book Jacket: Early Sobrieties
    Early Sobrieties
    by Michael Deagler
    Dennis Monk is sober now, and he expects some applause. Or at least some recognition that he's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Coin
    The Coin
    by Yasmin Zaher
    A popular choice for book jackets in recent years, perhaps especially in the historical fiction ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Lady Tan's Circle of Women
by Lisa See
Lisa See's latest historical novel, inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China.
Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Win This Book
Win Smothermoss

Smothermoss by Alisa Alering

A haunting, imaginative, and twisting tale of two sisters and the menacing, unexplained forces that threaten them and their rural mountain community.

Enter

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.