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The Virgin Suicides

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  214,561 ratings  ·  8,825 reviews
The haunting, humorous and tender story of the brief lives of the five entrancing Lisbon sisters, The Virgin Suicides, now a major film, is Jeffrey Eugenides' classic debut novel.

The shocking thing about the girls was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, their enigmatic personali
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Paperback, 243 pages
Published 2013 by Fourth Estate (first published 1993)
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Abby The boys come to realize that their mythical/romantic view of the girls is false... but it's only after they are dead that the boys realize the girls…moreThe boys come to realize that their mythical/romantic view of the girls is false... but it's only after they are dead that the boys realize the girls are just people. And that's a really powerful thing that shouldn't repelling. It should make you think about how men, especially young men, view young women in our society.(less)
Jez Keighley It's about memory, nostalgia, reminiscence, childhood, mystery, loss of innocence.

It's not really about the girls.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  214,561 ratings  ·  8,825 reviews


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Matt
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
suicide isn't the happiest of topics. the suicides of five sisters is even less pleasant. how do you recommend a book to someone on such a grim topic? easy: just read it.

what eugenides does so well is capture the mystery of secluded sisters, as seen through the eyes of neighborhood boys. this is important in reading the novel. it's not necessarily the lisbon sisters' story, but rather the boys' story, and how the suicides affected them all the way into adulthood (the boys are now men and they r
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Linda
Jan 29, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like pretentious books
I simply didn't get this book. I was so desperate to find hidden meaning in it, but there was nothing. Why waste so much paper and ink on something so overtly pretentious and so utterly meaningless? A group of oppressed sisters kill themselves after flirting with the neighborhood boys. How horrible that it happened in the middle of suburban America, where white picket fences are supposed to render such neighborhoods impermeable to tragic teenage death. In the end, all I got from this book was th ...more
Jen
Sep 08, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is like a preface, where the real book never feels like it begins. Endless foreshadowing mixed in with various teenage boy obsessions about what a home with five daughters must entail...boxes and boxes of tampons, etc. I couldn't wait for these girls to kill themselves just so the book would be over.
Matthew
I had to take some time after reading this and do some deep thinking before I could review. It is such an unusual story - good, but dark and full of nooks and crannies for skeletons and other vermin to hide. It is hard to say I enjoyed a story like this - that would be like saying I enjoyed a car wreck; intriguing, but lots of people and property were damaged in the process.

One main thing I can say is I don't think I have seen the main story take as much of a back seat to the setting
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Julie
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
Once, when I was 13, my father came home early from work and asked to see my yearbook. It was the last day of junior high, and I remember that I leaned against the kitchen counter, cracking my knuckles, and watched as he slowly turned the glossy pages, reading all of the comments that had been written by my friends.

He was silent the entire time he was reading, but when he finished, he handed me back my yearbook and said, “I loved being a teenager, but I wouldn't be one now for anything in the w
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Debbie Petersen Wolven
Where to begin. I have read some of the reviews of others who did not care for or get this book. I admit that the plot/storyline, though unique, is not what makes this story great--it's the prose. The writing is luminous and reads more like poetry than a novel. We don't even know exactly who the narrators are--it is narrated in first person plural and the name and even number of narrators is left vague. Eugenides uses metaphor to describe the deaths of the sisters as the disintegration of a subu ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
F
Nov 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: seen-movie, usa, 2013
So disappointed with this book.

Couldnt get my head round the characters
Blair
Honestly, I really wanted to fall in love with this. I've long been aware of its status as a cult classic and many people I know, as well as people I don't know but whose taste seems to correspond closely with mine, have professed to adore it. So I feel a bit uncomfortable about revealing that I disliked it - I'll admit, I have been guilty of judging people a bit if I see they've slated a book I really love, and this seems to be a book that has a lot of meaning for many readers - but, there you go, I ...more
Charlotte May
3.5 ⭐

This book has sat on my TBR list for YEARS! I finally ordered it from the library and gave it a go.
It was ok. Rather odd at times, and not the most riveting of reads, but ok nonetheless.

Set around the 1980s (I think?) the story focuses on the 5 Lisbon sisters, Lux, Mary, Cecilia, Bonnie and Therese. The sisters live in a claustrophobic household, full of strict rules laid down by their mother. Within the space of 2 years all 5 girls are dead - by suicide.

Told f
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Fabian
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Depressed people who complain about apathetic parents
Wow, you knew that this guy was the real deal after all.

I see this as a perfect segue to his masterpiece "Middlesex". It's simple, it's sad, it is capital I Intriguing. The first novel always announces the author's intentions for those that come next, and Eugenides loves the themes of adolescence in all its tragic shortcomings. The Lisbon girls are monoliths to the nameless suitors who do nothing else but speculate about them and become passionate voyeurs. They do nothing to save the
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Maxwell
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2018
I couldn't put this book down. It's not very long, and I'd been meaning to read it for years after hearing some great things about it. So I managed to get through it in a couple flights I took this week. It's utterly captivating; Eugenides's use of the choral narrative voice was unlike anything I've read before and the descriptions and dreamy and compelling. It has its moments of melodrama but those are balanced by the utterly mundane aspects of these characters' lives too. I feel like I need to ...more
Ariel
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't even really know what to say. I think maybe a few people are going to be disappointed that I didn't give this five stars, and I mean, I'm upset that it wasn't five stars either, but hear me out.

The thing I liked the most about this book is the perspective. We're learning about 5 girls who commit suicide.. and we NEVER hear anything substantial from any of the sisters? It was genius. The way this book was written is brilliant. Honestly, every couple of pages I would think to m
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nicole
May 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
So much better the second time around (and I loved it the first, so...)

Gorgeous, creepy. A suburban mythology. At first, I couldn't shake images from the film, which I thought might detract from really appreciating it as a novel, but in the end it didn't. I think that's because I realized Sofia Coppola had done a remarkable job adapting the text. I mean, holy shit, it's pretty much perfect. Such a moody novel with sparse dialogue, but what is there, is so right on (and often funny)..
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Elise (TheBookishActress)
I struggled with this book. On several levels.

On one hand, The Virgin Suicides is an introspective exploration of some of the problems of 1950s suburbia, and of our society’s tendency to look at suicide and the trauma of young girls as something dangerous, rather than real.

This narrative is told through the point of view of the boys around the girls. It purposefully fetishizes the pain and trauma of the five, attempting to critique this same fetishization. We barely know the tragedy of Cecilia, but she herself
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Joe Valdez
The Virgin Suicides is the first novel from Jeffrey Eugenides, who'd win a Pulitzer Prize for his follow-up Middlesex. Published in 1993, his debut is a literary narcotic that may thrill or disinterest readers based on their level of dependency to words. I found it to be a mindless drug that took me into a world where electrifying imagination and intoxicating prose mingle with some of the most obnoxious and far-fetched melodrama I've encountered in a book. In a fictional world where anything can happen, nothing t ...more
Steven Godin
Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, america
Influenced by a chance conversation with a babysitter, who told him how as teenagers she and her sisters all attempted to take their own lives, Eugenides has fashioned an eccentric, often amusing, and dreamy American fantasy, set within the leafy suburb of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a place where he spent his own years growing up.

Having ignored other reviews, and going into this knowing absolutely nothing, my concerns this was going to be a rather dark affair were quickly brushed aside
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B the BookAddict
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Patrick Acuna
Sometimes, you just know when you have found a truly great novelist and Jeffrey Eugenides is one such novelist. I initially rated this book four stars but no, it deserves a five star rating . And where have I been since 1999? On some desert island? How did I not possibly know of this wonderful gem of a book? Mr Eugenides has shot onto my favourite author list and I've ordered Middlesex and The Marriage Plot from my bookseller.

This is a haunting, dreamlike, atmospheric and raw novel. Told
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Julia Sapphire
June 2018
I've lost track of how many times I've read this. This time I listened to the audiobook and I freaking loved it! There's a reason why this is my favourite book.


re-read #3, completed on November 7th, 2017
heartbreaking and powerful as always

re-read #2, completed on October 9th, 2016

I ADORE this book. The story is tragic and sad but so beautiful. I love the writing and the narration. I have never re-read a book this many times and I still wanna re-read it. I managed to catch some m
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David Schaafsma
I approach the el every day and the first thing that greets me is the suicide hotline poster. They’re everywhere as the suicide rates go up. I grew up in the sixties and in the seventies I worked a suicide hotline, I worked in a psych hospital where I recall as vividly as five minutes ago several suicide attempts, and some completions. Family members. You never quite get over it, all the emotions, rage, sorrow, the mystification.

I had three sisters, and I lived in this girl-centric home, slumbe
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Michael
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Virgin Suicides is one of those books that you wish you could erase from your memory after finishing just so you can experience it all over again.

Jeffrey Eugenides has the unique ability to transform a very simple story into one of complete beauty. Suicide isn't the most pleasant of topics, especially when it's the suicide of five adolescents, but Eugenides writes it so well that it is impossible not to appreciate it. He blends just enough dark humor in to keep it tasteful and incorporates melancho
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Mary Deacon
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Theresa, Mary, Bonnie, Lux, and Cecilia Lisbon are five Catholic sisters growing up in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in Michigan during the 1970s. Their local community appears spellbound with the blond, elegant Lisbon sisters, who seem forbidden and separate from the ordinary world around them. Inexplicable tragedy strikes as the youngest Lisbon girl, Cecilia, commits suicide at the age of thirteen. This tragic event is the downward spiral that eventually destroys Cecilia's four sisters wi ...more
ALet
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
The Reading Rush day 2: Read a book and watch the adaptation.

★★ /5

Sadly, this wasn’t my cup of tea. This wasn’t a bad book, but I just didn’t care about anything that happed to characters. The story itself wasn’t bad; I definitely see what I tried to do. I don’t have a lot to say; because it simply wasn’t something I enjoyed or was interested in.
Vanessa
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I really loved the way this story was delivered, told from the point of view of the neighbourhood boys who have an obsessive fascination for the five Lisbon sisters who all succumb to suicide. It sounds utterly depressing and it is, but the way it's told it really captures the essence of adolescence yearnings, of unattainable fascinations of the elusive repressed sheltered Lisbon girls. The writing is as beautiful as the sisters, the story travels quickly almost without pause and you get really
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Bonnie
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bonnie by: 1001 Books to Read Before You Die
"With most people," he said, "suicide is like Russian roulette. Only one chamber has a bullet. With the Lisbon girls, the gun was loaded. A bullet for family abuse. A bullet for genetic predisposition. A bullet for historical malaise. A bullet for inevitable momentum. The other two bullets are impossible to name, but that doesn't mean the chambers were empty."

This was a strange read for me, yet still managed to be… I wouldn’t say enjoyable. Maybe intriguing is more like it. This book filled me
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
As an ambulance arrives for the body of Mary Lisbon, a group of anonymous neighborhood boys recall the events leading up to her death. The Lisbon's are a Catholic family, living in the suburb of Grosse Pointe, Michigan during the 1970's. The father, Ronald, is a math teacher at the local high school. The mother is a homemaker. The family has five daughters: 13-year-old Cecilia, 14-year-old Lux, 15-year-old Bonnie, 16-year-old Mary, and 17-year-old Ther
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Stacey (prettybooks)
The Virgin Suicides made me think about what exactly the word 'classic' means when it comes to books (spoiler: I still don't know). I discovered it was first published in 1993 only after I had chosen it to be my eleventh classic of the year. I'd never considered before that one would've been published in my lifetime, but according to Goodreads, many other people have shelved it as 'classic' also. It also has that modern classic feel to it. It seems that everybody has read it or has heard of it yet it's not ...more
Daniella
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You're either gonna think this is really boring, or really solid.
Betsy Robinson
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Betsy by: Julie

All readers bring to their identifications their histories, and in this book, who you identify with—the voyeurs or the object of their voyeurism—may inform your reactions. If you identify with the people who are looking, you may feel uneasy, uncomfortable with what “you” are doing; you may even feel repelled by the story and prefer distance from the family you are watching; or you may imagine you understand more than you possibly could. If you identify with the family being looked at, you may ex
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Stephen M
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Prose style: 4
Plot: 3
Depth of characters: 5
Overall sense of aesthetic: 4
Originality: 5
Entertaining: 5
Emotional Reaction: 5
Intellectual Stimulation: 4
Social Relevance: 4
Writerly Inspiration: 2

Average = 4.1
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I picked this up on something of a whim from the library, audiobook format. Be
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7,105 followers
Jeffrey Kent Eugenides is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer of Greek and Irish extraction.

Eugenides was born in Detroit, Michigan, of Greek and Irish descent. He attended Grosse Pointe's private University Liggett School. He took his undergraduate degree at Brown University, graduating in 1983. He later earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford U
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“She held herself very straight, like Audrey Hepburn, whom all women idolize and men never think about.” 1567 likes
“Basically what we have here is a dreamer. Somebody out of touch with reality. When she jumped, she probably thought she'd fly” 1430 likes
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