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Two or Three Things I Forgot to Care About

Erin reviews Joyce Carol Oates' Two or Three Things I Forgot To Tell You and is about to offend everyone on the internet in this review. 

Two or Three Things I Forgot to Care About

BOOK REPORT for Two or Three Things I Forgot To Tell You by Joyce Carol Oates

Cover Story: Live Your Life With Valtrex
BFF Charm: Nay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 0
Talky Talk: Putting the Y in YA
Anti-Bonus Factors: Cutting Just To Feel; Anorexia
Relationship Status: I'm Just Too A

Cover Story: Live Your Life With Valtrex

You know how, in herpes commercials, all the actors are leading MUCH better lives than you are?  Water skiing!  Mountain biking!  Kissing super hot models!  Wake boarding!  I've never really figured out why the theme of herpes commercials is always "be a fan of the outdoors once you get your herpes under control!"  I mean, I don't know a whole lot about herpes, but it doesn't, like, stop you from hiking, right?  They're genital warts.  Or face sores.  They aren't an ankle sprain.  Why is the big sell of herpes medication that you can go surfing in your jeep?  Why aren't all the commercials, like, "WELL, I totally got herpes from my dick of an ex boyfriend who cheated on me, but it's totally cool, because now I have Valtrex, which means that my new boyfriend can get up super close to my vagina and I'm not too embarassed about it?"  That seems more reasonable.

ANYWAY.  This girl looks like she just finished climbing a small mountain to triumphant yet generic stock music while a dude tells us that side effects may include anal bleeding, suicidal thoughts and nosebleeds.  If you have erections lasting more than four hours, seek medical help immediately.

The Deal:

Oh Christ on a Kabob, I hated this book so much.  But I'll get to that.  So, this book is about Merissa (not Melissa, not Marissa, no matter how many times I misread her name) and Naomi, two girls only related through their shared friendship with the now dead Tink.  Tink committed suicide earlier in the year and her ghost hangs over the shattered lives of her friends.

I don't mean that metaphorically.  Like, her ghost hangs around.  Not in a spooky way.  More in a "wooooo, don't kill yourself, you have so much to live fooooorrrrr" kind of way.  You'd think she'd have better things to do.

Merissa is a pefect student who has just been accepted early decision into Brown.  She's blonde, beautiful and perfect, but her parents are getting a divorce and she's pressured and stuff so she starts cutting herself.  I'm sorry, you guys - stop, let's just stop right now.  First, I want to say that if you cut yourself or do any sort of self-harming behavior, seek help, please.  Next, I want to say, stop reading this right now, because I'm gonna upset you, I know where this leads; I remember MySpace back in the 2001s when you had the song that played on the MySpace page; mine was Nina Simone.  I'm going to say something mean and insensitive and then you're going to get mad that I'm insensitive and then you're going to leave a comment about how it's mean, insensitive people like me who make you cut yourself and let's just avoid all of that right now.  I'm going to pretend that I understand the basic tenets of cutting yourself just to feel and that it isn't the dumbest thing I've ever heard of, and you're going to pretend that the internet doesn't upset you, deal?

Anyway, okay, we've dealt with Merissa.  Naomi's problem is that she's SO VERY FAT.  Naomi is 119 pounds and her chubby, fleshy body disgusts everyone around her, and her post-pubescent breasts strain against her Gap sweaters, so fat, so fat, that Naomi.  Naomi, why you so chunky, girlfriend??  Anyway, so Naomi's got anorexia, and she also got date-raped and is being slut-shamed all over school, because we have to go for every hat trick in this book.  Does someone also start their period for the first time so that this can truly speak to the youth today?

So, that's the whole story, except in the book it's told in fragment sentences.

BFF Charm: Nay

You're kidding me, right?

Swoonworthy Scale: 0

So, check it.  I super thought this book was going to turn into a lesbian love story about how ladies found themselves via the application on their tongues on other ladies' labia and clitorises.  (Clitorises?  Clitorisii?  What is the plural of clitoris?  Oh my God, what if you had TWO clitorises on your body?  Like, BAM, BAM, orgasms everywhere, like, you wouldn't even be able to wear pants because you'd be unable to walk without getting to fourth base with yourself.) 

But it was NOT a book about lesbians gently learning about their place in this Tegan and Sara world.  Instead there's some date rape, some cheating, and some inappropriate crushes on teachers.  My panties are not so much aflame as they are listless and lacking in direction.

Talky Talk: Putting the Y in YA

One time in high school I thought I could write poetry.  I wrote a poem at least once a day.  This lasted for an entire week.  AND THEY WERE THE WORST POEMS EVER.  But, of course, at the time, I thought they were super deep, because they didn't rhyme and also compared America to a gap-legged whore, which isn't even original - I stole that from Maya Angelou.  So they were awful AND plagiarized!

Anyway, but to me they were super deep, because  was fifteen, and when I was fifteen, anything that wasn't a song from the Cardigans album was considered super deep (I mean, obvs I've gotten over that, because the Cardigans are awesome) and I'm glad to say that I now both wash AND comb my hair every day, thank you very much.

Anyway, are you fifteen?  If you are, you will like this book.  If you are not, you probably won't so much.

Anti-bonus Factor: Cutting Yourself Just To Feel

Guys, I just feel like . . . aren't we over this?  I'm sorry; I know I'm being super insensitive and I apologize to all eight of you who are cutters, but didn't we get over this in 1997, or something?  Like, or even maybe 2004; I'll give you 2004, that's when that Panic At the Disco was all the rage, right?  They made me want to cut myself, too.  I understand.

I just feel like this is not a capital-I Issue that we should be discussing in our books in order to connect with The Kids of Today.  I mean, have you SEEN My Strange Addiction?  Where's the book about drinking nail polish or eating your own skin flakes?  THESE are the issues that The Kids Of Today care about!  I know!  Cause sometimes I watch TLC and it tells me all about it!

Anti-bonus Factor: Anorexia

119 pounds, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS BULLSHIT?  I mean, guys, unlike with the cutting, I get eating disorders; I know you don't have to be fat to have an eating disorder; in fact, most people with ED aren't overweight and never have been.  So it's not that it annoys me that Naomi weighs 119 pounds and wants to get down to her "goal weight" of 98, even though the very idea of that alternately makes me want to eat a giant sandwich and also reinvest in my 8th grade plan to eat only lettuce and string cheese every day forever.  It's that EVERYONE buys into it!  Like, her whole class calls her "chubby" or "fleshy" or talks about how she strains against her sweaters, and what the fuck kind of sweaters is she buying, DOLL SWEATERS MEANT FOR AMERICAN GIRLS?  Like, 119 pounds doesn't strain against anything.  119 pounds barely allows a person to donate blood!

I guess I just kept thinking that Oates was going to SAY something about Naomi's anorexia, but she never did.  I'm sure a healthy teenager would read this book and think Naomi was sick, but someone already ill or predisposed?   Nope, they'd be dining on Saltines and celery sticks quite happily after reading this.  Just . . . very irresponsible, to be honest.

Casting Call:

AnnaSophia Robb as Merissa

Taissa Farmiga as Naomi

Relationship Status: I'm Just Too A

Oh, book.  Sometimes you meet someone that's just a little too young for you, you know?  And that was you.  I'm sure if I had been younger, more easy to impress, or more prone to cutting myself while listening to bad music, we could have had something.  But as it was . . .  Sorry, book.  It's not me.  It's you. And even though you made me full out laugh my ass off at your "twist" at the end (not sure that was the intended goal), it still wasn't enough to save you from being doomed to the reject pile.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from HarperCollins.  I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!)  Two or Three Things I Forgot To Tell You is available in stores now.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.