After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away

( 18 )

Overview

In the raw was how the world felt now. My feelings were raw, my thoughts were raw and hurtful like knife blades. . . . In the blue had been my place to hide, now In the raw there was nowhere to hide.

Jenna Abbott separates her life into two categories: before the wreck and after the wreck. Before the wreck, she was leading a normal life with her mom in suburban New York. After the wreck, Jenna is alone, trying desperately to forget what happened that day on the bridge. She's ...

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After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away

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Overview

In the raw was how the world felt now. My feelings were raw, my thoughts were raw and hurtful like knife blades. . . . In the blue had been my place to hide, now In the raw there was nowhere to hide.

Jenna Abbott separates her life into two categories: before the wreck and after the wreck. Before the wreck, she was leading a normal life with her mom in suburban New York. After the wreck, Jenna is alone, trying desperately to forget what happened that day on the bridge. She's determined not to let anyone get close to her -- she never wants to feel so broken and fragile again.

Then Jenna meets Crow. He is a powerfully seductive enigma, and Jenna is instantly drawn to him. Crow is able to break down the wall that Jenna has built around her emotions, and she surprises herself by telling him things she hasn't told anyone else. Can Jenna bring herself to face the memories she's tried so hard to erase?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As engrossing as Oates's Sexy, this psychological drama explores how a teen is changed by a devastating automobile accident that leaves her mother dead. Fifteen-year-old Jenna is sitting in the passenger seat when the car her mother is driving careens into the guardrail of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Details of the wreck remain fuzzy to Jenna, but she feels that she may have been responsible for the crash. After her physical injuries heal, her emotional wounds are still raw as she adjusts to a different life, leaving her home in Tarrytown, N.Y., moving to a small New Hampshire town to live with her aunt and uncle and their two younger children. She begins to think of her life in terms of before the wreck and after the wreck, and longs to be "in the blue," the idyllic drug-induced state she experienced in the hospital. Jenna tries to emulate that feeling, turning to a cool but dangerous senior girl, alcohol and drugs and distances herself from the people who love her and want to help her most. It isn't until Jenna develops an unlikely friendship with Crow, a rugged biker from Canada, that she finds the courage to confront and overcome her fears. Throughout this intense novel, the author offers keen insight into the cause and effect of a teen's self-destructive behavior. Readers distraught by Jenna's downward spiral after the wreck will find solace in the book's inspiring conclusion. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
What a title this is. It practically gets under the skin to inform the unfolding of this story. Fifteen-year-old Jenna carries the guilt of memory. The memory, a strangely luminous and beautiful thing, masks the reality of a dreadful accident on the Tappan Zee Bridge, an accident that killed Jenna's mother, and of which Jenna herself is the lone survivor. Physical survival is the least of her problems. The story dances, hurtles, trips us through the mental map of Jenna's troubled recovery, from a place so close to her wounded consciousness it feels palpably dangerous. Alone in the world, and rejecting her estranged father's offer of a home, Jenna chooses instead to live with her mother's relatives. In a new school, not wanting to get close to anyone, she begins to shape her world in her own way, defining life in two emotional spaces—before and after the wreck. Yet another space ("in the blue") threatens to claim Jenna, pitting the temporary solace of painkillers against the unavoidable questions everyone seems to demand that she answer. Involuntarily drawn into the world of Crow, a boy in her new school, Jenna is faced with choices that seem in turn self-evident and impossible. This title is the story of a girl coming to terms with the pain of living, and with her own treacherous memory. Oates navigates this crowded terrain in a narrative whose pace unerringly reflects the emotional meanderings of her troubled protagonist.
VOYA - Sarah Flowers
Fifteen-year-old Jenna's life changes in an instant when she is injured and her mother dies in a wreck on the Tappan Zee Bridge. She is not willing to move to California with her father and his new family, so she ends up in New Hampshire with her aunt, uncle, and two young cousins. She is angry, guilty (she thinks the wreck might have been her fault), sad, and confused, and she resists most offers of help. She makes all the usual mistakes, getting involved with the wrong people and with drugs, but manages to land on her feet, mainly through the help of Crow, an older boy who is gorgeous, mysterious, and as it turns out, wise. There is not much new here, and Jenna's change of heart seems too quick and too pat, but the story's fast pace and strong teen voice will certainly appeal to teens.
KLIATT
Joyce Carol Oates continues her crossover into YA literature with this novel about Jenna Abbott, the survivor of a horrific crash that claims the life of her mother. Jenna drifts in and out of consciousness, haunted by the events and the toll they have taken on her life and her psyche. Dealing with the aftermath is both an emotional and physical struggle as she denies her estranged father and goes to live with her mother's sister, Aunt Caroline, and her family in Yarrow Lake, New Hampshire. It is an idyllic setting for a troubled girl who can't slip easily back into the normal world. She is haunted by the accident and fears that it was her fault. On one of her walks through the park, she meets Gabriel St. Croix, "Crow," a young man with his own set of demons. She recognizes the walk of someone who has had his own horrific accident, but learns quickly that Trina Holland has "claimed" him. Trina is herself a troubled teen with too much money and no real family support. She leads Jenna into a world of alcohol, drugs and parties with older boys. Jenna soon is immersed in a bad scene of another kind as she sneaks out with Trina to party in one of the boy's family cabins. She comes to appreciate the support of her family, the love of her father and the hard consequences of the choices people make. Oates's style makes for a compelling reading experience, and although Jenna is not necessarily a likable girl, readers will care what happens to her as she finds her way back after the tragedy. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2006, Harper Collins, 304p., and Ages 15 to 18.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Jenna Abbott, 15, is struggling to come to terms with the car accident that killed her mother and nearly took her own life as well. Formerly athletic and smart, she suddenly finds herself unable to concentrate or communicate with anyone. She is broken in both body and spirit and desperate to escape "into the blue," which is how she remembers the drug-induced haze immediately after the accident. Not wanting anything to do with her father and his new family in California, she moves to New Hampshire to live with her aunt and uncle, and begins looking for ways to escape. She steals OxyContin from her uncle's medicine cabinet and becomes friends with Trina, who is dealing with her own substance-abuse problems. It takes two near-disasters for Jenna to tentatively open up to her classmate Crow and face her fears and grief. Oates is at her best telling the stories of teenage girls dealing with internal trauma and outside pressures. Jenna's pain at losing the only person truly close to her and the isolation she creates for herself are poignantly drawn. Her understanding that her choices are not what her mother would want for her is especially telling and may speak to teens in comparable situations. Similar in topic to E. R. Frank's Wrecked (S & S, 2005), this powerful novel is well worth reading.-Stephanie L. Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Odenton, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Oates's most recent foray into YA fiction won't disappoint fans of her teen writing, especially those who loved Big Mouth and Ugly Girl (2003). After surviving a car accident in which her mother dies, 15-year-old Jenna refuses her father's offer to live with him, choosing instead to live with her aunt and uncle. Although she recovers from her extensive physical injuries, Jenna still must cope with Post-traumatic stress-like symptoms. As many teens under severe emotional stress are apt to do, Jenna makes friends with the wrong crowd, and then dabbles with drugs. Her risky behaviors eventually draw her into an extremely dangerous situation from which she narrowly escapes. Throughout the story, Jenna finds herself inexplicably drawn to Crow, a mysterious boy with a haunted past of his own, causing readers to hope that he will be the key to her recovery. Oates's variation on a stream-of-consciousness style is appropriate for the voice of a character who spends so much time in her own head, but the ending is wrapped up a bit too simply considering all of Jenna's issues. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060735258
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/22/2006
  • Pages: 304
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

Biography

Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world. She has often used her supreme narrative skills to examine the dark side of middle-class Americana, and her oeuvre includes some of the finest examples of modern essays, plays, criticism, and fiction from a vast array of genres. She is still publishing with a speed and consistency of quality nearly unheard of in contemporary literature.

A born storyteller, Oates has been spinning yarns since she was a little girl too young to even write. Instead, she would communicate her stories through drawings and paintings. When she received her very first typewriter at the age of 14, her creative floodgates opened with a torrent. She says she wrote "novel after novel" throughout high school and college -- a prolificacy that has continued unabated throughout a professional career that began in 1963 with her first short story collection, By the North Gate.

Oates's breakthrough occurred in 1969 with the publication of them, a National Book Award winner that established her as a force to be reckoned with. Since that auspicious beginning, she has been nominated for nearly every major literary honor -- from the PEN/Faulkner Award to the Pulitzer Prize -- and her fiction turns up with regularity on The New York Times annual list of Notable Books.

On average Oates publishes at least one novel, essay anthology, or story collection a year (during the 1970s, she produced at the astonishing rate of two or three books a year!). And although her fiction often exposes the darker side of America's brightest facades – familial unrest, sexual violence, the death of innocence – she has also made successful forays into Gothic novels, suspense, fantasy, and children's literature. As novelist John Barth once remarked, "Joyce Carol Oates writes all over the aesthetical map."

Where she finds the time for it no one knows, but Oates manages to combine her ambitious, prolific writing career with teaching: first at the University of Windsor in Canada, then (from 1978 on), at Princeton University in New Jersey. For all her success and fame, her daily routine of teaching and writing has changed very little, and her commitment to literature as a transcendent human activity remains steadfast.

Good To Know

When not writing, Oates likes to take in a fight. "Boxing is a celebration of the lost religion of masculinity all the more trenchant for its being lost," she says in highbrow fashion of the lowbrow sport.

Oates's Black Water, which is a thinly veiled account of Ted Kennedy's car crash in Chappaquiddick, was produced as an opera in the 1990s.

In 2001, Oprah Winfrey selected Oates's novel We Were the Mulvaneys for her Book Club.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Rosamond Smith
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 16, 1938
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lockport, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

Read an Excerpt

After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away


By Joyce Oates

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Joyce Oates
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060735260

Chapter One

In the blue we were snow geese flying.

These big beautiful white-feathered snow geese flying with a flock of other geese. In the V formation we were flying and our long necks were sticking way out and our eyes were narrow slits in our weird white feather faces. And our wings!

You should have seen our wings pumping the air. Pumping the air, riding the wind.

A thousand feet above the river, pumping the air hard to save our lives.

A song came into my head.

Knew this old world would be a hard hard place Seeing how the snow geese fly, brave wings pumping



Continues...

Excerpted from After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away by Joyce Oates Copyright © 2006 by Joyce Oates. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2013

    Ygvm


    Rrtn

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    Magnificent

    This book is about a girl whos struggling to forget the memories of the wreck.a boy named crow will help her confront those fears and help her to fly away.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 8, 2012

    ?????????

    How was it on a scale of 1-10 ?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2012

    Reccomended!!!!!!!

    I really enjoyed this book from srart to finish. All of the roadblocks in her way made the story captivating and motivating! I would definetely reccomend!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Adventurous!!!!

    This book is about a young girl that goes through a lot of things that many teenagers go through today. I can relate to this book a lot because the things that happened in the book happen every day in real life. At the beginning of the book I was a little confused about some of the phrases the author used. But later on I started to understand a lot better. It made more since when I really got into the book. I deffinitely enjoyed this book. It's one of those books that you just don't want to put down. It is full of drama and action. There was alwaus something different and exciting happening. I felt bad for the girl because the power of guilt got the best of her and turned her life upside down. She didn't deserve to lose her mother. Things like that just happen sometimes and nobody knows why. You can't blame yourself and Jenna didn't understand that it wasn't her fault. I was hoping the whole time that she would stop blaming herself for something that she had no control over. I was very glad when she found a friend that could help her get through her problems and to help her let go or her guilt. I would have changed the ending of this book because I thought that if Jenna was with the person that she loved that it would help her. But it turned out she didn't need to be in love or have a man to rely on to get her to move on with her life. Sometimes going it alone and going the long way is better in the end. Guilt is a terrible thing to have in your life. It can weigh you down and make you a miserable person. I think that if someone that had a lot of guilt in their heart, read this book that it would help them tremendously. Nobody deserves to die and nobody deserves to lose someone that is so close to them but it isn't in our hands. You just have to make the best out of it or it will get the best of you. Becuase, as I saw in the book, the guilt can push you to do many things that you wouldn't have normally done if you didn't have the guilt in your life. Drugs and aocohol are never the answer to solving anything.

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  • Posted May 6, 2009

    An enjoyful book to read.

    This book is like other books you read, very boring till you turn the page. This book is also very realistic and it had a great impact on my life. It made me realize that the same thing could happen to me any moment. My mom means everything to me and it would kill me if I lost her. Anyways, once you get past the first couple chapters you get a good feel of it then you will enjoy it. The ending didn't turn out the way I had planned but it made me realize that not every ones life has a perfect ending.

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  • Posted May 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    One Word, WOW!

    This book was so realistic! Everything about the book was great, but I do wish it had more detailed writing in it. Although, in the writing you could feel her emotions, I could tell when she was happy, mad, upset, etc. I would definately recommend this to the older teens; any older teen can relate to the peer pressure, the emotions, etc. I wouldn't recommend it to the younger teens, it has a lot of reference to drugs, alcohol, and sex. Other than that, this was a very good book. This book will also make you think about driving a little slower and pay more attention to the road. Your life can be taken away in a blink of an eye.

    It expresses the life of a teenager, Jenna, of whom loses her mother in a car accident. Jenna sufferes minor injuries including a concussion. From which she suffers some memory loss. After her mother died, she went to live with her aunt and uncle. She starts a brand new school, and has to make new friends. She likes to run, run, run. While she is running one day, she meets Crow. He helps her to overcome her fear of going over bridges. She seems to fall for Crow, but towards the end of the story we find out a huge secret about him. Jenna and Trina becomes friends and gets her hooked on drugs and alcohol. Jenna ends up overdosing and having to get her stomach pumped. They went to party and Trina ends up getting raped and everyone wants Jenna to testify against the guys that did it... She was also walking home from school one day and the guys that did that to Trina tried to beat her up, but Crow came to the rescue. Jenna's life has been turned around, can she revive it?

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  • Posted May 5, 2009

    Life Changing

    this is a book about a teen girl that has to make tough choices in her life.It also explains how her life is so perfect until one day its all taken away from her.she and her mom were in a wreck, and she lost her mom.she didnt have much to do with her dad and after the wreck her dad wanted everything in the world to do with her. she started hanging with people that were a bad infulence on her. at the end she realized thatshe was lied to by her friend.I recommend this book to young teenagers. It will really change the way you thing about things.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    After This Book I Picked Myself Up With Emotion and Realism I Found

    This book is amazing! I really like the realism that the book showes. One moment Jenna is with her mom driving, the other she is in a hospital bed and later to her aunt and uncles house, finding herself being drawn toward the wrong crowd and her new school.

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

    Joyce Carol Oates's new book for teens has a long title and it really does sort of give away the ending. Although, the ending is probably not the most important, rather the journey and its twists and turns. <BR/><BR/>Jenna is in a tragic accident with her mother on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Her mother and the driver of the other car are killed, leaving Jenna a survivor, but at what cost? The circumstances of the accident are unclear. What Jenna does remember leads her to believe she might have been responsible. <BR/><BR/>As Jenna struggles to recover from her injuries, she lives in a drug-induced haze. Her father, who remarried years ago, has a new family. Jenna certainly doesn't feel welcome in his home, so she's told she will be living with an aunt and uncle. Her mother's house is sold and her new home comes complete with two cousins, a new school, and the sometimes nosey concern of a small town. <BR/><BR/>Attempting to cope with new surroundings and the death of her mother sends Jenna into a tailspin of emotions. She meets new friends, but gravitates to those who help her forget with pills and alcohol. An accidental overdose lands Jenna in the emergency room and under the care of a therapist. Despite the care and concern of her caregivers, her life continues to spin out of control. <BR/><BR/>Finally there is the arrival of Crow with his dark and mysterious side. Jenna finds she can talk to Crow about things she can't say to anyone else. Does he care about her? Does he have the answers to get her back on track? <BR/><BR/>AFTER THE WRECK, I PICKED MYSELF UP, SPREAD MY WINGS, AND FLEW AWAY captured me right from the start. Jenna's struggle felt authentic and true. I was touched by her pain and sensitive to her attempts to move on, only to drift back into confusion. Oates definitely outdoes herself with this one.

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

    Posted October 1, 2008

    racia- book fanatic and aspiring author

    I loved this book. I do not recommend it for kids, but it was awesome. I do not read this type of book often, but I loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2008

    wow

    i must say..this is one of my favorite books of all time! Oates flawlessly captures the true essence of the teenage voice, i recommend this book all the wayy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2007

    a reviewer

    Joyce Carol Oates¿s new book for teens has a long title and it really does sort of give away the ending. Although, the ending is probably not the most important, rather the journey and its twists and turns. Jenna is in a tragic accident with her mother on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Her mother and the driver of the other car are killed, leaving Jenna a survivor, but at what cost? The circumstances of the accident are unclear. What Jenna does remember leads her to believe she might have been responsible. As Jenna struggles to recover from her injuries, she lives in a drug-induced haze. Her father, who remarried years ago, has a new family. Jenna certainly doesn¿t feel welcome in his home, so she¿s told she will be living with an aunt and uncle. Her mother¿s house is sold and her new home comes complete with two cousins, a new school, and the sometimes nosey concern of a small town. Attempting to cope with new surroundings and the death of her mother sends Jenna into a tailspin of emotions. She meets new friends, but gravitates to those who help her forget with pills and alcohol. An accidental overdose lands Jenna in the emergency room and under the care of a therapist. Despite the care and concern of her caregivers, her life continues to spin out of control. Finally there is the arrival of Crow with his dark and mysterious side. Jenna finds she can talk to Crow about things she can¿t say to anyone else. Does he care about her? Does he have the answers to get her back on track? AFTER THE WRECK, I PICKED MYSELF UP, SPREAD MY WINGS, AND FLEW AWAY captured me right from the start. Jenna¿s struggle felt authentic and true. I was touched by her pain and sensitive to her attempts to move on, only to drift back into confusion. Oates definitely outdoes herself with this one. **Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka 'Readingjunky'

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

    Posted January 17, 2007

    Written in a way that draws the reader in....

    The book was truly touching. The author did an amazing job at reaching The characters inner feelings. This book was by far my most favorite of all times. The book is especially for anyone who is really coping with loss or just in a rough time in their life at the moment. I'd recommend this book to anyone and everyone!!:]

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    Posted October 9, 2011

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