Thursday, April 18, 2013

Audiobook Review: Daddy Love by Joyce Carol Oates

Title:  Daddy Love

Author:  Joyce Carol Oates

Narrator:  Christine Williams

Unabridged Length:  6 hrs.

Here is a summary of the book from the HighBridge Audio website:

Dinah Whitcomb seemingly has everything—a loving and successful husband, and a smart, precocious young son named Robbie—until one day, their worlds are shattered when Dinah is attacked and Robbie is abducted from a mall parking lot. As Dinah recovers from her wounds, she struggles to come to terms with her new reality and to keep her marriage afloat. Though it seems hopeless, she retains a flicker of hope that her son is still alive.

The kidnapper, a part-time preacher named Chester Cash, calls himself Daddy Love: he has abducted, tortured, and raped several young boys, indoctrinating them into becoming both his lover and his “son.” He renames Robbie “Gideon,” slowly brainwashing him into believing that he is Daddy Love’s real son. Any time the boy resists or rebels, he faces punishment beyond his wildest nightmares.

As Robbie grows older, he begins to realize that the longer he stays in the home of this demon, the greater the chance that he’ll end up like Daddy Love’s other “sons” who were never heard from again. Somewhere within this tortured young boy lies a spark of rebellion, and soon he sees just what lengths he must go to in order to have any chance at survival.

My Review: 
Oates is obviously a very talented author, but just the couple of books I have listened to have not quite measured up for me.  Although I can't say I loved this novel, I do have to admit that it did still captivate me in a way that had me eager to get back to my car and listen to it.  I think Williams narration helped my appreciation of this book.

The beginning of this book was very confusing for me.  It seemed to repeat the opening scene continuously, maybe giving a different perspective or giving just a little bit more information each time.  I think almost the entire first disc was spent repeating that scene and I started to wonder if that was going to be the entire book.  Luckily, it wasn't, and once it moved on my annoyance passed quickly.

When Robbie is kidnapped the book alternates perspectives between Robbie, Dinah, and even the kidnapper, Chester Cash.  Sometimes I have problems keeping books like this straight, especially in the audio form, but that was not the case with this one.  Williams did a great job of narrating the different parts and I was able to follow along easily. 

I think Oates did a great job of depicting the situation as we followed the boy and his kidnapper for years afterward.  We a get a glimpse into Robbie's head as he yearns for a normal life, wanting to have friends and participate in school activities, rather than being hidden away.  And on the flip side of the coin we see what life is like for the parents that are left behind with a huge whole in their lives.

Although the book started out rocky for me, it did pick up allowing me to enjoy the story.  Although the storyline is ripped from the headlines, Oates goes a bit further by relating the feelings of all involved.  She really is a talented author and this makes me want to go get her latest novel.  With themes of love, trust, and deceit, you may also enjoy this book.  I do recommend this book for those that are interested in this type of storyline and also think it would make an interesting book club discussion.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by the publisher through the Audio Jukebox program in exchange for an honest review.


bermudaonion said...

This does sound like it was ripped from the headlines but I usually think of girls being kidnapped - I'm not sure why. I like Oates writing but it can be dark and gloomy.

Vicki said...

Having a child kidnapped/killed is a mother's worst nightmare!!

I haven't read a book by this author, but this sounds interesting. I'm wondering if he ever escapes and/or remembers his real name.

Unknown said...

How did you get this so it showed up that you did your review? I received it from Audiobook Jukebox, but I don't know how to make it show my review!