AdultFiction Teton County Library's Reviews > The Burgess Boys

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
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Oct 22, 13

Read in August, 2013

TCL Call#: FICTION Strout

Cindy W.-5
The Burgess Boys is another five star read by Elizabeth Strout, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with Olive Kitteridge in 2009. The title characters are brothers Jim and Bob Burgess, Maine natives (as was Olive Kitteridge) who are now living in Manhattan and practicing law. They are both silently driven, almost stalked, as the story reveals, by a single tragic event which occurred early in their childhood. It is also a single event which brings them both back to their hometown in Maine, and which propels the plot - a stupid, impulsive act of their teenage nephew’s, prosecuted as a hate crime against a growing community of Somali immigrants. When Jim and Bob are called upon by their panicked sister to come home and rescue her son, their closeted family history re-emerges and gets right in their faces.
Strout’s talents are revealed in every aspect of the book - her writing style is lyrical yet economic, her characters, even the sub-characters, are complex and mostly likeable despite their flaws, her plot is fast-paced and surprising. I liked her vivid, palpable descriptions of the conservative, small town in Maine contrasted with the cutting-edge mayhem of present day Manhattan. I also liked her empathetic, fly-on-the-wall views of the immigrant Somali community. Elizabeth Strout, with two five-star reads in a row, is now one of my favorite authors. I hope I don’t have to wait another five years before she publishes her next book, but if I do, it will be well worth the wait.

Diana - 4 stars
What I love about Elizabeth Strout's writing is that is so good without clobbering you over the head with how good it is. She's got the adult sibling relationships down pat, and two of the three of these siblings can't be bothered to sugarcoat how they feel about one another, nor anyone else, initially making the third of them more sympathetic, but I grew to care about the other two as the story went on. Several different voices narrate the story, which calls to mind Olive Kitteridge, and that works well in creating empathy in the reader. This story ends on a hopeful note for all three of the siblings.
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08/13/2013 marked as: read

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