Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Burgess Boys

by Elizabeth Strout

I wanted to read this because my mother loved Olive Kitteridge written by the same author.  Mom highly recommended it to me and to several other people.  Reading it was like a treasure hunt as I searched for and wondered why my mom loved it so.  What was it that 'spoke' to her? I never really answered that question and my mother couldn't really pin it down when I asked her.  She said there was something that resonated within her as she read it.

Now I understand.  Even though I really liked Olive Kitteridge, it didn't resonate with me, but The Burgess Boys did.  It wasn't so much the story but the characters and what they felt at different times.  I highlighted several (okay, lots) of passages that 'spoke' to me but I can't share them because my copy is an advance ecopy and I'm not suppose to quote from it.

Surprisingly, it wasn't the two Burgess boys that spoke to me, but their sister and one of their wives.  The doubts these women expressed were some that I have felt and sometimes still do.  Strout was able to help me see into the hearts of people who, on the surface, I wouldn't have thought I had much in common with.  The two women were not the only ones I felt compassion for - my heart ached for the teenage boy, for his two uncles, and for the Somali people who were forced to move to a small town in Maine.

Here's the write-up from the author's webpage.
Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.
Strout won a Pultizer Prize for Olive Kitteridge and I'll bet she wins a few prizes for The Burgess Boys, too. I liked this book a lot.


raidergirl3 said...

I'm intrigued! I loved Olive, like your mom did, but in ways I couldn't exactly quantify. I'm looking forward to Stout's latest book. thanks for the great review!

Mystica said...

I've read just one of her books and found it slow but I'd like to give this one a go.

Booklogged said...

raidergirl3, I think you'll love The Burgess Boys, too.

Mystica, both books are slow going but meaty. I generally like mysteries so I'm used to a faster pace, but I still really liked Stout's books.

Les said...

I tried to listen to Olive Kitteridge, but couldn't get interested. I have the print copy, though, so I'll give it a go one of these days. Maybe I'll try this one first.

Booklogged said...

Les, I think Olive would have been hard to listen to because the stories change from chapter to chapter.

Brona said...

I loved this book too at a very personal level. It has the special ability to connect :-)