Monday, May 13, 2013

"The Burgess Boys" Return Home

The Burgess Boys
By Elizabeth Strout
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: March 26, 2013
ISBN: 978-1400067688
Pages: 336


The Burgess Boys is the recent novel from the Pulitzer Prize winning author, Elizabeth Strout, I have to be honest, I have never heard of the author before. I became interested in the title because my last name is in the title. Random House nicely sent me a free copy to review in exchange for my honest review.

It seems the Burgess siblings, Jim, Bob, and Susan, have been haunted (or more like cursed) by the accidental death of their father. When they were children, they were sitting in the car when one of them crawled into the driver's seat causing the car to roll over their father. Both Jim and Bob moved away from their small hometown in Shirley Falls, Maine. Jim is a famous corporate lawyer, while Bob is a legal aid lawyer. Elizabeth didn't grow up to be widely respected like her brothers. She stayed in Shirley Falls to raise her teenage son, Zach.

The Burgess Boys have no plans of returning to Maine, but after Zach gets involved in a possible hate crime, Jim and Bob return to try to keep things quite, which doesn't last long as the media is never too far behind. The siblings must confront their past and unlock secrets that they never wanted out.

I would like to start out by stating that Elizabeth Strout is a wonderful writer of proses and descriptions. The Burgess Boys reminds me a lot of Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Both books are beautifully written, but are lacking solid plots and likeable characters. I like the idea of people going back home to help family members, but the characters seem a bit awkward. Jim is basically a jerk, Bob is nothing more than a doorstop, and Susan seems to be completely lost. I started to feel for Zach, but I couldn't connect with his character at all. Are the readers suppose to feel sorry for them? There is an unneeded subplot about the Somali immigrants. I do like the authors attempt at this, but it drags the pacing of the book down a notch. Like I said, the author is a wonderful writer but the book is just lacking the likeable effect for me. Therefore, I'm giving The Burgess Boys three out of five, mostly because my last name is Burgess, and I do appreciate the author's attempt.

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