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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foxfire Forever!
Oates' novel begins with a furious pace and never lets up. The prose mirrors the feeling and the action of the novel -- fast-paced, raw and vibrant. Legs Sadovsky is one of the most memorable characters I have encountered in a long time -- a complex character that needs another book! I read this book in one sitting because I just couldn't stop reading. I had to find...
Published on December 14, 1999 by Archimago

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bad-Tasting Book
I think every young woman should read Foxfire. It's a literary fantasy for any girl who's been raised in poverty, sexually abused, or made to feel like a lesser person, an idiot, or an object, just because they were female. Foxfire doesn't try to deliver a positive "Girls Can Do It!" message, and it probably won't leave you with a smile on your face when you...
Published on September 18, 2001 by Cape


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foxfire Forever!, December 14, 1999
This review is from: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (Paperback)
Oates' novel begins with a furious pace and never lets up. The prose mirrors the feeling and the action of the novel -- fast-paced, raw and vibrant. Legs Sadovsky is one of the most memorable characters I have encountered in a long time -- a complex character that needs another book! I read this book in one sitting because I just couldn't stop reading. I had to find our what happened to Foxfire and Legs and why these girls ended up separating. The way Oates develops the chracterization of the gang, as if it were a character itself, is fantastic. We watch the gang go from petty vandalism to violence and prostitution, and the whole way we can understand why they have made the choices they do. I felt for these characters and never once thought they went too far, even their final act which seals their fate.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WOW. WAY different than the film version., May 12, 2002
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I knew that the film (Starring Angelina Jolie and Jenny Shimizu... yum!) version was based LOOSELY on this book - but i didn't realize HOW loosely! The book is 1,000,000 times better than the movie. The characters are more real (not 5 very attractive girls being a little "naughty"), the acts of rebellion more extreme, the setting (small blue collar town in New York State, 1950's) more appropriate... and it's just all more compelling. The novel really helps you get into the mindset of the sisterhood of the gang - and is more racey. Everything was toned down for the film, and loses a lot of the intensity.
Even if you didn't like the film - you should check out this book. It exhibits some female rebellion in a time/place where women could hardly expect the respect that FOXFIRE demands.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it, July 26, 2004
This review is from: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (Paperback)
When I read Foxfire four years ago, I became a Joyce Carol Oates fanatic. That didn't change when I read it again just recently. Its appeal is the girl gang idea- about the power struggles that each of the five girls as they move through adolescence. Legs Sadowsky is a troubled young girl who brings four others together in ways they never thought possible. Oates has a marvelous way with words, in which you are horrified yet at the same time fascinated by all that happens. Legs makes for a marvelous, beautiful character in that way. The girls are brutal to one another, and harsh to an outside world, which has, in a way, rejected them. In the end, the girls have to make decisions about growing up that affect each other and, inevitably, the outside world. Its a sexy, sad, and thought-provoking book that I couldn't put down.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Movie - Better Book, December 14, 2005
By 
John Conner "Let's make music" (Shelby Township, Michigan USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (Paperback)
FOXFIRE by Joyce Carol Oates is a haunting tale of the relationships developed among groups of outcasts and "leftovers," marginalized by the established mainstream. The subtitle is "Confessions of a Girl Gang," and that is exactly what is told. The story is set in upstate New York but could be anywhere in American suburbia. The group of girls gang together, at first out of circumstance, then survival, and finally love. Despite the mostly pathetic personality of the characters, they become endearing and fit nicely into the world Oates has created. I hesitate to recommend FOXFIRE to those unfamiliar with Oates' pastiche narrative style and penchant for (mostly mild) violence in her stories, but this did grip me and I considered it a "page turner."

The movie version is only loosely based on the novel, with more differences than similarities. Even with the successful cult following, which is at least partly due to Angelina Jolie's subsequent fame, the book outshines the movie's comparative mediocrity.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I still have not read a book by JCO that i did not like., March 13, 2001
This review is from: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (Paperback)
JCO draws a terrific portrayal of a girl gang in upper NY State in the 50's. The way they became a gang was not to cause harm, but as a way to protect themselves from the horrible abuses that they faced on their day-to-day lives. How can these girls ultimately become so brutal, cold and heartless? Surprise, surprise: it all starts at home. They also wanted to protect others, their sisters, from abuse and injustice. As one reader pointed out, how many times have you been groped and insulted? Was there anything you could have done about it? Well, the Foxfire girls put their feet down and decided to retaliate. However, their sense of retaliation went too far, and they caused more damage than good at the end. As with anything in life, self-righteousness always takes the better part of you.
Another excellent point that the book covers is group dynamics. Teamwork and its multiple facets, the roles people assume in a group context, the cliques, the power plays, and the dominating/submissive personalities.
I am surprised no one has brought up the erotic overtones of these relationships, especially between Legs and Maddy. Is it sisterly love only? In my opinion, these girls were so hungry for love and their interactions with males had been so catastrophic that by exclusion they were inclined to homosexuality. Although these feelings were never realized, they are so real and so complete that 40 years later Maddy still cries about Legs.
This is one of those texture books, where you can intensely see, smell, taste, and hear what is going on in the page. The scenes about Legs in solitary confinement are particularly vivid.
I like the ending a lot, from the time of Maddy's visit to Rita, to the final comments about the transcripts. JCO is a master at what she does. She was able to concentrate the whole essence of the book in one final sentence, one of the most brilliant endings i have ever read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FOXFIRE burns & burns!, August 11, 2005
This review is from: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (Paperback)
Upstate New York is a territory well-explored by Oates, and in FOXFIRE: CONFESSIONS OF A GIRL GANG, she again triumphs in creating another highly original, compelling story about the working class section of the state. In FOXFIRE, she tells the story of a group of teenage girls growing up during the 1950s. There are five to begin with: Legs Sadovsky, enigmatic founder and leader of the gang, and Maddy "Monkey" Wirtz, the gang's official recorder, among them. They start out merely as a group of young women rebelling against authority, vandalizing property and going for joyrides in stolen cars. But gradually, as their gang grows in numbers, the girls are driven to further acts of violence; it seems to almost become an obsession for them, and it isn't long before they're in over their heads. Events follow that will force the girls to face the consequences of their actions--actions that will end Foxfire, their beloved girl gang, forever.

At the center of this cumpulsively readable story is Maddy, Oates' narrator, who has unearthed her old Foxfire notebooks years after the end of the gang. Maddy tells the story of the young women who shaped her teenage years feverishly, passionately, as if the story of Foxfire is one that she has no choice but to tell. Her narrative is fluid, fragmented, and rushed, told in a distinctive voice--a voice illuminated by Maddy's lost youth, a voice desperately in love with Maddy's lost Foxfire. Maddy's compelling narrative also nakedly reveals the character of Legs Sadovsky, Foxfire's indestructible and bold leader, a girl who, underneath layers of bravado, is just as lost as the girls she claims to protect.

The more JCO I read, the more convinced I become that she's a genius. Using highly original stories and characters, Oates deconstructs big issues in her narratives. In FOXFIRE, she touches on themes of power, social status, sexuality, and oppression--and she does it in a highly entertaining, haunting, flawless, unforgettable narrative. FOXFIRE is a sexy story about the bonds of sisterhood and the politics of fear that leaves the reader with plenty to ponder, and in this novel, Oates is at her finest.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foxfire Burns and Burns, June 29, 2000
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This review is from: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (Paperback)
I read this book a year ago, and I have reread it many times since. I suppose I am the target audience, I'm a girl, was 16 when I first read it, and I felt pretty alone at the time. But each time I read it, not matter how I'm feeling, it enthralls me from start to finish. The characters are deep, not the stereotypical teenagers you get in most novels. You understand where each character is coming from, what there motivation is. Nothing is ever out of character in this book. Plus, you know a book is great when it randomly pops up in your mind, and you're inspired to reread the entire thing on a regular bases. This work is pure genius, and it will be burning in your mind for years to come.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars foxfire is worth the read, July 18, 2000
This review is from: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (Paperback)
Although it takes a little bit of adjusting to Oates' stream-of-conciousness writing style, it is definitely worth it for this book. Foxfire is essentially about the intricate structure of friendships, and just how far some will go for the ones they love. On the surface, you see the girl-gang plot, but when engrossed in the novel, it's passion for being anything but conformative will shine.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visceral and cruel; an eye opener., July 6, 2001
By 
ProsaicParadise (Laurel, MD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (Paperback)
When I came upon this book as an option in my very busy reading schedule, I was a little afraid; I thought to myself, "Gosh, I hope this is really a kick-butt pro-girl book." Well, I wasn't disappointed. This book kicked my butt. I was taken in, drawn in, to the lives of these girls and their rebellion against the constant assault of perceived ownership; ownership by their parents, their friends, licentious men with an agenda. This book is gritty; there are no two ways about it, but despite being appalled at certain times and really affected emotionally, I was glad that the author did not hold back.
If you're looking for absolutely the most feminist book possible, I suppose you could find aspects of this one that aren't; perhaps it judges its characters and perhaps it doesn't. I didn't care. As long as it was making me think about girls, the times described in the book (the 50s), and the travails thereof, my feminist needs were being met.
I think this book should be taught in schools.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Joyce Carol Oates book I've read, February 8, 2000
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This review is from: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (Paperback)
I was incredibly disappointed with Man Crazy when I read it. But a friend of mine insisted that I give Oates another chance, so I picked up Foxfire. It was work of pure genius! It is a fast-paced story about a strong group of young girls trying to make their way through what appears to be a male-dominant world. However, the girl-gang that was created, Foxfire, is sadly destroyed. I will not spoil the end, but it is a deliciously curious tragedy. The situation of the Dwarf-Woman (you will understand when you read it) was just plain horrifying and wretched. I nearly cried. But, trust me, you will not be disappointed with this book. It puts an interesting spin on "criminal feminism" without glorifying it. I suggest you read it.
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Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang
Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang by Joyce Carol Oates (Paperback - August 1, 1994)
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