Customer Reviews for

We Were the Mulvaneys

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Wonderful, poignant, insightful

This is a compelling yet completely heartbreaking novel. In We Were the Mulvaneys, Oates creates an idyllic family with a peaceful, happy life, and depicts the family members¿ simultaneous demises after Marianne, their daughter, is raped at a party after prom. As the Mu...
This is a compelling yet completely heartbreaking novel. In We Were the Mulvaneys, Oates creates an idyllic family with a peaceful, happy life, and depicts the family members¿ simultaneous demises after Marianne, their daughter, is raped at a party after prom. As the Mulvaneys fall from their previous social standing and each undergo personal struggles involving recovery and justice, Oates touches on all aspects of family issues. From alcoholism, to violence, depression, anxiety, and separation, she leaves absolutely nothing out. The effect is a book that will ¿Break your heart, heal it, then break it again,¿ as a reviewer from the Los Angeles Times Book Review put it. Though it¿s not a book to read on a sunny day when you¿re in a good mood, We Were the Mulvaneys is honest, insightful, and powerful. It will make you think about the connections between family members in ways you never have before.

posted by ar_t on December 5, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

happy, sad, good? bad?

i had to read We Were the Mulvaneys for school , and i must admit i found it hard to read. The beginning of the book, though a little too off topic at times, i found very interesting and i fell in love with not exacty a particular character, but how they all interact wi...
i had to read We Were the Mulvaneys for school , and i must admit i found it hard to read. The beginning of the book, though a little too off topic at times, i found very interesting and i fell in love with not exacty a particular character, but how they all interact with each other. The second half of the book got a little boring, but seeing the characters who seem indistrucable crumble, and the ones who seem to be weak break free of your judgments inspired me. While reading this book i felt many emotions, and it even made me cry. seeing how one person can effect the lives of so many others and watching characters struggle to grow, to become who they are in the end, was amazing. i think the books end was much to sudden, and worked out a little to well, and didnt even really tie up all loose ends. Sometimes characters especially Marianne we hard to relate to, but somehow it kept me into the bok. the book did NOT make me want never put it down, its deffintinly the type of pook you need a break from, but overall, i think it was worthwhile because the lessons in the book and the charactrs in the book have seemed to wedged themselves into my heart, and i dont think ill soon forget them.

posted by CourtRose on November 2, 2009

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  • Posted December 5, 2011

    Wonderful, poignant, insightful

    This is a compelling yet completely heartbreaking novel. In We Were the Mulvaneys, Oates creates an idyllic family with a peaceful, happy life, and depicts the family members¿ simultaneous demises after Marianne, their daughter, is raped at a party after prom. As the Mulvaneys fall from their previous social standing and each undergo personal struggles involving recovery and justice, Oates touches on all aspects of family issues. From alcoholism, to violence, depression, anxiety, and separation, she leaves absolutely nothing out. The effect is a book that will ¿Break your heart, heal it, then break it again,¿ as a reviewer from the Los Angeles Times Book Review put it. Though it¿s not a book to read on a sunny day when you¿re in a good mood, We Were the Mulvaneys is honest, insightful, and powerful. It will make you think about the connections between family members in ways you never have before.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2006

    i can't get it out of my head

    This book is my favorite. Not only is it written by the amazing Joyce Carol Oates, but because it is a story that haunts me everyday. I recommend this book to everyone. We Were the Mulvaneys is phychologically deep and timeless. It has definetly left a mark on my heart.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2005

    Amy, a 16 year old who loves to read!

    In We Were the Mulvaneys, Oates makes you as the reader feel as if you are part of the Mulvaney family. When the family is broken apart you feel broken along with them. This book will keep you turning the pages for hours.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2003

    We were the Mulvaneys, remember us?

    'We were the Mulvaneys, remember us?' Thats how the story started, and thats exactly what caught me because no, I did not know them, but simply by asking, it made me think that they were supposedly well-known. I read this book when I was 15, and again now, 2 years later, and am also doing a research paper on Joyce Carol Oates and actually set up an interview with her, since she's only half an hour away in Princeton. WE WERE THE MULVANEYS was one of the best books I've ever read. The characters were so vivid and so many experiences were displayed so that the reader knew each character well, as if known personally, so that when the downfall of the Mulvaney family- a prosperous, popular family- occurs, it leaves the reader so moved and upset. And that is what great writing is.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2003

    Phenomenal

    My mother and I are both avid readers- we're having a hard time finding anything else even remotely interesting after reading 'We Were the Mulvaneys.' It keeps you thinking for months...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2005

    We Were the Mulvaneys

    Oates¿s artistic, descriptive writing style allows the reader to feel the settings involved in the story. A truly wonderful book that makes the reader sense they are actually involved in the emotional tragedies and triumphs of the story. This is an empathetic story which makes one envision the Mulvaneys as their own neighbors.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2004

    Awesome!

    This book keeps you enthralled from beginning to end. Oates is a great author and I can't wait to read more of her books. This book has amazing characters and is really touching.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2003

    Fantastic, Heartbreaking Story

    I love this Oates novel because it tells a story that is relatable - something that some of Oate's novels don't possess. I believe Oates to be a gifted writer, and even though I may not enjoy each of her storylines, I read them, appreciating her ability to manipulate the written word.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2003

    A Family Changed Forever

    Sometimes when a woman is raped everything around her changes, including her family. This is what exactly happened to the fictional Mulvaney family in 'We Were The Mulvaneys.' Author Joyce Carol Oates takes you into the world of the once close-knit Mulvaney clan through the voice of younger brother Judd Mulvaney. Told in a clearly written and mature voice, you feel the pain Judds' family goes through when they all learn his older sister, Marianne, is raped. From then on, you notice the family drift apart to spiral out of control. For the three weeks I read, 'We Were The Mulvaneys,' I could not put this book down. I was gripped to the very end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2002

    compelling

    I was so affected by this novel, that I felt emotionally drained when I finished. I couldn't begin another book for awhile, because I was so overcome with emotion reading this one. Not a book to be read when one wants a light, easy read. This is, in my opinion, a masterpiece.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2014

    Great book!

    I started this book last night. Hard to put down. I like this author and it is probably her best. I almost feel like I am part of the Mulvaney family.

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  • Posted November 11, 2013

    If you like Wally Lamb.....

    This reminded me of a Wally Lamb book. Well written but too wordy and a little slow at times. Worth a read though.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great on CD, Easy to Listen to While Driving

    I listened to this book on CD in my car. The narration was excellent and the story kept me engaged. I looked forward to getting in my car to hear what was happening next. I loaned the series to a friend when I was finished and she totally enjoyed it, too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2004

    A must read!

    This is by far one of the best books i've ever read. Very touching, almost makes you feel like part of the Mulvaney family. Definitley a must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2002

    Truely Touching and Emotional...

    This book was beautifully written and i could actually feel what the charecters were feeling. It reached me on a personal level and i will always remember the Mulvaneys.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2002

    Whither American Community?

    I found We Were the Mulvaneys to be an excellent novel. As an average Joe, or trying to be one, its exploration of contemporary American society struck just the right chords and nerves in me. I have thought seriously about community (if there is such a thing) in America for years and am glad to say that I would have written WWM myself. I admire Ms. Oates' concern for the location of values in America. And so the irony contained in the word 'were' of the title is brilliant and enthralling. Consider the following key points from the novel: the symbolic nature of Mike, Sr. and Mike, Jr. betrays themsleves, not their literal characters. The symbolic nature of all the characters is made clear with Mike's statement that the 'key's been lost' to his familial connection. Marianne, the wayward daughter, moves to Erie, Spartansburg, Stump Creek Hill, and Sykesville. The new owner of High Point Farm is the cardiologist that Patrick doesn't become. The Mulvaneys become the unwanted family now. What constitutes a veritable past for the Mulvaney family if usurping can occur? The plans for building the new house hinge on financial conditions. A family is only as good as the texture of society that suffuses it. Judd, as truth-teller (artist), is not made prominent, though he does relate and render judgement. What I wonder is, does Judd take on qualities of his other three siblings and parents? I love the way Ms. Oates introduces Judd. Hemingway-ish almost. But she abandons the approach of using Judd as truth-seeker, which I'd like to see, in view of the seriousness of the theme she is developing. His occupation of editor makes for a good starting point. Grace Strasser-Mendana of Joan Didion's A Book of Common Prayer and Didion's probing journalistic voice in the essays come to mind, for example. WWM gives us much to ponder about contemporary American society and leaves the reader with hope as the 'disinherited' Corinne exults in the experience of a rapturous conclusion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2002

    I saw it on Lifetime

    This was a good movie. I saw it on Lifetime and I fell in love with it. It was perfect. They had a good story line and you know I was only 10 and I cried. It really touched me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2002

    What a touching and wonderful book....

    Due to many time constraints, I hadn't had much time to read over the last several months. My mom leant this book to me last summer, and I didn't even think about picking it up until right before Christmas when I had a little time off from work. I was immediately pulled in and had it finished in 3 weeks. I picked it up whenever I had a spare moment to read a sentence and I was not disappointed. The messages in this book, especially those of family love and changing dynamics in a family hit home for me. It is a beautiful story about how we deal with the pain we go through in life and how it affects those around us as well. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2002

    WE WERE THE MULVANEYS

    I was the best book I ever read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2001

    NO SUGAR COATING FROM OATES

    You're going to read a novel that gives you the stuff that life is made of. If you cannot take the heat, well you know what to do. In this piece, the Mulvaneys are a very happy close knit, no secrets held type of family. There are Corinne and Michael Mulvaney the parents, and Marianne, Patrick and Judd the brothers. The trouble starts with Marianne who is date raped on a Valentine date and, and falls into despair just having to tell her perfect family about her horendous happening. She of course expects sympathy, but that's when the house falls down; for she gets not an ounce of comfort or anything of that sort. It's more like 'and what are the people at the country club going to say?' and 'how do we explain this precarious situation to our neighbours?' The crunch comes then when her cowardly father sends a messsage via his lovely wife Corrinne to inform the young lady that she is to find somewhere else to live. In other words this is no longer her home....find somewhere else. Her brothers are torn apart and confused by the happenings in this family, as all personalities make desperate changes and everyone totally isolates themselves from each other. In the meanwhile, Marianne drifts from place to place, and life in the Mulvaney's house has come to a standstill. One cannot but help wondering why it is that the parents are acting in such an unfeeling and callous way instead of being supportive of their daughter's dark fate. Readers, that's how life is, and it shows that their foundation was terrible weak. As long as evything and everyone was honky dorey, life was beautiful. Otherwise...forget it. A somewhat happy ending, but this book takes a great deal of patience and it is quite a long book, but ever so real. That's the reason that I'm keeping mine safely in my library until I feel the need to reread it one day again. Give it a go and you'll see what I mean. Joyce Carol Oates is a brilliant writter.

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