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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author Joyce Carol Oates returns with an incendiary novel that illuminates the tragic impact of sexual violence, racism, brutality, and power on innocent lives and probes the persistence of stereotypes, the nature of revenge, the complexities of truth, and our insatiable hunger for sensationalism.

When a 14-year-old girl is the alleged victim of a terrible act of racial violence, the incident shocks and galvanizes her community, exacerbating the racial tension that has been simmering in this New Jersey town for decades. In this magisterial work of fiction, Joyce Carol Oates explores the uneasy fault lines in a racially troubled society. In such a tense, charged atmosphere, Oates reveals that there must always be a sacrifice - of innocence, truth, trust, and, ultimately, of lives. Unfolding in a succession of multiracial voices, in a community transfixed by this alleged crime and the spectacle unfolding around it, this profound novel exposes what - and who - the "sacrifice" actually is, and what consequences these kinds of events hold for us all.

Working at the height of her powers, Oates offers a sympathetic portrait of the young girl and her mother, and challenges our expectations and beliefs about our society, our biases, and ourselves. As the chorus of its voices - from the police to the media to the victim and her family - reaches a crescendo, The Sacrifice offers a shocking new understanding of power and oppression, innocence and guilt, truth and sensationalism, justice and retribution.

A chilling exploration of complex social, political, and moral themes - the enduring trauma of the past, modern racial and class tensions, the power of secrets, and the primal decisions we all make to protect those we love - The Sacrifice is a major work of fiction from one of our most revered literary masters.

©2015 Joyce Carol Oates (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Unsettling stereotypes, excellent voices

There was a lot of repetition in the beginning that made me almost stop listening, except the narrators were excellent. I also really struggled with the way terrible stereotypes were reinforced. The book played some clever tricks on me though, which I appreciated because it made me consider my own biases.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

What happened to the end?

The story was very interesting but unfortunately it ended abruptly. I thought I'd skipped a chapter. What happened to the mother? what happened to the daughter? What a disappointment!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Race

very interesting introspective look into bias, class. and race. We all can become prey to a system rich with racism.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Ereka
  • GAITHERSBURG, MD, United States
  • 09-30-15

Tawana Brawley need her royalty checks.

I wanted an original fiction story. This book was so much familiar because its almost identical to the Tawana Brawley and Rev. AL Sharpton fiasco. If I would have known that I would not have downloaded the book.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Stark representation of present day race issues

This is not a touchy feely warm family story, but yet it is...a family that is torn and twisted by history and poverty, just trying to survive. It is set in the late 1980s but could easily be 2015. I was shocked, angry, sad and riveted. Language is gritty and vulgar but correct for the story. As usual, Bahni Turpin is perfect.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful