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Sexy Paperback – January 3, 2006

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up–Oates has produced another novel with a compelling story line and a complex protagonist. Darren Flynn is incredibly good-looking, but isn't quite sure how to handle all the admiring attention he receives from females and males alike. In addition, his teachers and swimming coach remark consistently on his untapped potential and the way he holds himself back both in the pool and in his writing, and Darren knows this to be true. The teen's hardscrabble rural New England lifestyle is juxtaposed with the professional, well-off families of his friends. As in Big Mouth and Ugly Girl (HarperCollins, 2002), Oates takes an ambiguous and uncomfortable incident with a male teacher and allows the story to unravel through rumor and innuendo into a horrible climax. Here, a retaliatory attack on the man's character by some disgruntled students careens out of control and has deadly consequences. The characters of family and friends are well drawn but the star is the protagonist, and Darren's authenticity shines through. The male-centered, first-person narrative and athletic allusions make this novel appealing to reluctant male readers. This is sure to be a popular title and is great for sparking discussion, even though the explicit language and subject matter may be problematic in some schools.–Courtney Lewis, Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School, Kingston, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. Fans of Oates' previous YA books will want to read this book, which, like Freaky Green Eyes (2003), is written in fragmented sentences meant to create a conversational effect. Sixteen-year-old Darren Flynn is a good-looking "guy's guy," a junior on the swim team, but he is uncomfortable with his maturing body and with girls. Darren believes men watch him, too, something that both disgusts and excites him. A seemingly innocent encounter with his English teacher, Mr. Tracy, troubles Darren. There are rumors Tracy is gay, and after the teacher flunks one of Darren's teammates, some boys retaliate, implicating Tracy in child porn. Tracy, who insists he is innocent, appeals to Darren for help. Teens will be drawn into the story, wanting to know if Darren is gay and if he will vouch for his teacher. But Oates loses control of her plot by dividing her attention among too many issues--sexual orientation (there's even a scene in which Darren has sex with a college girl), personal responsibility, and betrayal--and the ethical debate becomes too muddied to follow. Readers may come away as confused as Darren is by the close of the novel. Cindy Dobrez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; Reprint edition (January 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060541512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060541514
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #773,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of more than 70 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, essays, and criticism, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde. Among her many honors are the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and the National Book Award. Oates 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jon Linden VINE VOICE on February 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is exquisite and marks another transitional point in Ms. Oates writing style. The book centers around the development of a sexual identity in her protagonist, Darren. Darren is 16 going on 17 in the story, which takes place over about a 1 year time frame. Oates is particularly specific and incisive with her psychological development of the character's sexual identity.

In addition, there are several powerful subplots or themes concurrently unfolding in the story. But perhaps the most significant of these is the result of a person being falsely accused of a sexual crime. Despite the fact that this person has passed a lie detector and there is no tangible evidence against him, neither physical nor testimonial; not even enough to show cause to arrest him. Yet this does not stop the entire town from believing precisely the opposite of the truth. In a most profound manner, Joyce illustrates just how the "appearance of impropriety" is just as bad as an actual impropriety.

Oates' writing style is particularly fascinating in this book. It is a conflation of all her previous talents, with elements of Barthelme image fragments and D.H. Lawrence style deep psychological introversion; it also combines her prior writing styles with her Rosamund Smith (her pseudonym) style in its page turning readability. The character of this style is very, very different; and leaves the reader to interpret much more than Oates usually does. Yet it is also gripping and charismatic in the manner in which she uses it.

This is one of the finest of her novels so far, and completes the transitional writing style, which seems to have been so prevalent, but developmental in her book "Rape: A Love Story." The book is recommended for almost all readers, it is a thriller, a classic and a mystery rolled all into one. The feelings and empathy she displays here are seriously professional. The book is truly a bit magical.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on March 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I decided to give this book a whirl because I have heard wonderful things about Joyce Carol Oates's Young Adult offerings. Sexy is quite a compelling and thought-provoking novella. When an English teacher is accused of committing a sexual crime, it is up to young Darren to speak in his favor. But Darren is overwhelmed with confusions regarding his sexuality. Darren is quite a popular sixteen-year-old who is part of the swimming team that one of the boys, out of spite for having been flunked, accuses Mr. Tracy of being a pedophile. Darren struggles with his identity and the reader wonders whether or not he is indeed gay. There are various twists throughout the novel.

The novella may seem disjointed at times -- especially toward the end -- but that is because Oates wants you to read between the lines and understand the sort of confusion Darren is going through. The language is remarkable; you feel as though you are having a conversation with the narrator. The language is also quite stark and ambiguous at times, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. That is the reason why the writing may seem disjointed at times, but this is done on purpose. I was able to feel Darren's loneliness and confusions as though it were my own. His inability to share his insecurities with others spoke volumes. That is what makes Sexy an incredible book that all adolescents, male or female, should read. The novella is thought provoking in more ways than one. Once again, Joyce Carol Oates has wowed me with this effort. This isn't her best book -- her short-story collections are much more literary -- but it is one of the best YA books I have read in a long time. I cannot recommend Sexy enough.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Caren Cowan on April 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed Sexy. Coming from a teacher point of view and former librarian, I would not have titled it "Sexy". I think the book is so much more than it's title but, that is what the parents are going to see and it might inhibit some students from picking up a great book.

The book explores so may aspects of teen turmoil. I loved the ending!!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Mangini on February 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is the best YA book Oates has wrote so far and I hope she keeps writing them, they keep getting better and better. I finished the whole book in just a few days so it's the perfect book to give to your friends and ask them to read and you don't have to wait for a long reply. READ THIS!!!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eric Anderson on February 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Unflinchingly forging into new territory, Joyce Carol Oates has written a novel delving into the mind of an adolescent boy whose potent sexual appeal is only just emerging. The author's first two novels for young adults primarily focused on the lives of unpopular, strong-willed teenage girls. In this novel she writes about a character named Darren who is popular, athletic and (to his confusion) attractive. The story focuses on an encounter Darren has with one of his teachers named Mr Tracy. A group of Darren's friends choose to use this teacher as a scapegoat to divert attention away from their own misconduct. The hapless boy is put under enormous pressure to speak out against his teacher and is forced to make a serious choice.

With remarkable subtlety, Oates depicts this teenage boy's evolving consciousness. You follow how he suddenly becomes aware of himself as a physical presence in the world. The author expresses in the narrative the way that he is unable to articulate his own feelings and thoughts about people such as the girl he is romantically involved with and events such as the ride home with the teacher. Oates skilfully explores the male psyche in Sexy like she did in the accomplished novels What I Lived For and Wonderland, but in a much more compressed form. This novel would make a wonderful start for growing readers who can then continue on to delve into a rich range of adult novels by the same author.
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