Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Burgess Boys

Elizabeth Strout won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, Olive Kitteridge. Her new novel, The Burgess Boys is also an amazing success. The story of the Burgess children, Bob, Susan and Jim, does not disappoint.  There is no doubt this novel is as impressive as her last one. In this novel she untangles the relationships between siblings and also addresses the prejudices that still reverberate throughout American culture since the 9/11 attacks.

She paints a story that makes you feel as you watch the Burgess family struggle to understand what happened to their lives. Like all families the Burgess boys do not always get along. Most families argue or bicker amongst themselves, but when there is a crisis family usually comes together; this is no different for the Burgess boys. When Susan notifies her brothers that her son made a serious mistake and the situation is grave, Bob and Jim both return to Shirley Falls, Maine to help. Their nephew committed a rash prank which is being considered not just a prank, but a hate crime. The situation is even more intense because of Shirley Fall's poor economy and the influx of Somali immigrants.

The tension between the brothers as they work to resolve the family crisis and their own relationship drives this novel. Strout does an amazing job in evoking emotions of envy, guilt, bigotry, selflessness and love.  Her story shows family life through all the good times and the bad times. However, this is not just a family story but also a social commentary.  It’s a poignant and emotional story that is so realistic you will feel like you are looking in the Burgess' window or maybe even your own.  This is a must read novel that will make you think, feel, wince, laugh and wish you were home.  

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