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The Burgess Boys

by

The Burgess Boys Cover

ISBN13: 9781400067688
ISBN10: 1400067685
All Product Details

 

Staff Pick

The Burgess Boys is a story about family — what it is, what it isn't, and what it can become. For their entire lives, a childhood tragedy hangs over Bob, Jim, and Susan Burgess. It takes another tragedy (of sorts) to shake apart the tedium that has flattened their lives. Strout's three siblings each undergo major character change and growth, which is seamlessly woven into this straight-from-the-headlines story. Strout reminds us that when there is no hope, when there is no help, there is still family.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout’s “magnificent gift for humanizing characters.” Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature.

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.

With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

Review:

"No one should be surprised by the poignancy and emotional vigor of Elizabeth Strout's new novel. But the broad social and political range of The Burgess Boys shows just how impressively this extraordinary writer continues to develop....She's particularly adept at subverting our prejudices, complicating our easy judgments of people we think we know....There seems no limit to her sympathy, her ability to express, without the acrid tone of irony, our selfish, needy anxieties that only family can aggravate — and quell." Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Review:

"Strout conveys what it feels like to be an outsider very well, whether she's delving into the quiet inner lives of Somalis in Shirley Falls or showing how the Burgess kids got so alienated from one another. But the details are so keenly observed, you can connect with the characters despite their apparent isolation....[A] gracefully written novel." Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Strout deftly exposes the tensions that fester among families. But she also takes a broader view, probing cultural divides....Illustrating the power of roots, Strout assures us we can go home again — though we may not want to." O: The Oprah Magazine

Review:

"Wincingly funny, moving, wise." Good Housekeeping

Review:

"With her signature lack of sentimentality, a boatload of clear-eyed compassion and a penetrating prose style that makes the novel riveting, Strout tells the story of one Maine family, transformed. Again and again, she identifies precisely the most complex of filial emotions while illuminating our relationships to the larger families we all belong to: a region, a city, America and the world." More

Review:

"The Burgess Boys returns to coastal Maine [with] a grand unifying plot, all twists and damage and dark, morally complex revelations....The grand scale suits Strout, who now adds impresario storytelling at book length to the Down East gift for plainspoken wisdom." Town & Country

Review:

"[Strout's] extraordinary narrative gifts are evident again....At times [The Burgess Boys is] almost effortlessly fluid, with superbly rendered dialogue, sudden and unexpected bolts of humor and...startling riffs of gripping emotion." Associated Press

Review:

"Reading an Elizabeth Strout novel is like peering into your neighbor's windows....There is a nuanced tension in the novel, evoked by beautiful and detailed writing. Strout's manifestations of envy, pride, guilt, selflessness, bigotry and love are subtle and spot-on." Minneapolis Star Tribune

About the Author

Elizabeth Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 5 comments:

writermala, June 18, 2013 (view all comments by writermala)
The Burgess family is portrayed in this book with such extraordinary clarity that I began to feel they were part of my immediate circle. In today's world where dysfunctionality is the norm, this family's unity and Jim and Bob's running to the aid of Zach and Susan when they are in need is touching. The story is woven neatly and there is not a single needless character or event. I just loved it from beginning to end.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Joanne Haley, May 22, 2013 (view all comments by Joanne Haley)
Another great read by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout. The way she builds her characters is captivating and she's done it again with the Burgess Boys. Her narrative cuts right to the bone making you feel like you had grown up with the Burgess Boys and could feel their feelings and identify with their relationships with each other & their world in general. This family's stories are so relevant to our times and the consequences of their actions are what we see all around us everyday. Each word she chooses to build their story is so carefully chosen and beautifully written that each time I opened the book I could feel the author's artistic abilities! Loved it and it kept me up into the night reading because it was too hard to put down!
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Silvers Reviews, May 21, 2013 (view all comments by Silvers Reviews)
The BURGESS BOYS is a journey into the lives of Jim, Bob, and Susan Burgess. They were brothers and sister whose relationship with each other fell apart after their mother died.

THE BURGESS BOYS centered on family, feelings, secrets, lies, and on Zachary's being disrespectful of Somali immigrants which caused problems for the Burgess family who already had many problems of their own. You will feel the tension among the three siblings as they try to solve this dilemma, and you will also see how it brings them closer.

Jim and Bob had become courtroom attorneys with Jim being the more successful one. Bob left the courtroom and went to the appeals court, and Susan is the one who stayed in their hometown and is now burdened with what her son did. She definitely needed her attorney brothers for this situation. She preferred Jim but Bob had to help her with Zachary's problem.

When Bob arrived at his twin sister's house, he didn't like what he found in terms of how Susan lived. He was sure this didn't help with how quiet and withdrawn Zachary seemed. Jim finally did intervene with the courts, and thought he had helped, but he wasn't too happy about helping his sister get her son out of this mess. As usual, Bob was in the middle of it all or completely left out.

The interaction of the main characters was very well done. Bob and Jim definitely were portrayed as rivaling siblings with Jim being the cruel one as he threw barbs and cruel comments at Bob. This wasn't anything different from their childhood, though. Their sister remained the sister in the background.

I enjoyed the great descriptions and well-developed characters Ms. Strout employed, but I wasn't a great fan of the storyline. I really was looking forward to this read and am a bit disappointed. THE BURGESS BOYS seemed to be a bit slow even though it was interesting to learn about the legal system and the life of the Somali people.

The ending focused on the Burgess children as adults thinking about their lives and alluded to the fact that your childhood shapes you as an adult in terms of how you feel about yourself and your life choices. I do have to say THE BURGESS BOYS did touch on some good subjects.

I can't say it was my favorite read, but it wasn't my least favorite. The major problem for me was the type of book it was. I like more of a saga. To me it seemed more like stating facts or a narrative.

The book did get better in the last 100 pages, but to me it still was not that interesting and was a little disorganized. 3/5

This book was given to me from a win on LibraryThing and the publisher without compensation in return for an honest review.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400067688
Author:
Strout, Elizabeth
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20130331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9.53 x 6.54 x 1.18 in 1.28 lb

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Featured Titles

The Burgess Boys New Hardcover
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Product details 336 pages Random House - English 9781400067688 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The Burgess Boys is a story about family — what it is, what it isn't, and what it can become. For their entire lives, a childhood tragedy hangs over Bob, Jim, and Susan Burgess. It takes another tragedy (of sorts) to shake apart the tedium that has flattened their lives. Strout's three siblings each undergo major character change and growth, which is seamlessly woven into this straight-from-the-headlines story. Strout reminds us that when there is no hope, when there is no help, there is still family.

"Review" by , "No one should be surprised by the poignancy and emotional vigor of Elizabeth Strout's new novel. But the broad social and political range of The Burgess Boys shows just how impressively this extraordinary writer continues to develop....She's particularly adept at subverting our prejudices, complicating our easy judgments of people we think we know....There seems no limit to her sympathy, her ability to express, without the acrid tone of irony, our selfish, needy anxieties that only family can aggravate — and quell."
"Review" by , "Strout conveys what it feels like to be an outsider very well, whether she's delving into the quiet inner lives of Somalis in Shirley Falls or showing how the Burgess kids got so alienated from one another. But the details are so keenly observed, you can connect with the characters despite their apparent isolation....[A] gracefully written novel."
"Review" by , "Strout deftly exposes the tensions that fester among families. But she also takes a broader view, probing cultural divides....Illustrating the power of roots, Strout assures us we can go home again — though we may not want to."
"Review" by , "Wincingly funny, moving, wise."
"Review" by , "With her signature lack of sentimentality, a boatload of clear-eyed compassion and a penetrating prose style that makes the novel riveting, Strout tells the story of one Maine family, transformed. Again and again, she identifies precisely the most complex of filial emotions while illuminating our relationships to the larger families we all belong to: a region, a city, America and the world."
"Review" by , "The Burgess Boys returns to coastal Maine [with] a grand unifying plot, all twists and damage and dark, morally complex revelations....The grand scale suits Strout, who now adds impresario storytelling at book length to the Down East gift for plainspoken wisdom."
"Review" by , "[Strout's] extraordinary narrative gifts are evident again....At times [The Burgess Boys is] almost effortlessly fluid, with superbly rendered dialogue, sudden and unexpected bolts of humor and...startling riffs of gripping emotion."
"Review" by , "Reading an Elizabeth Strout novel is like peering into your neighbor's windows....There is a nuanced tension in the novel, evoked by beautiful and detailed writing. Strout's manifestations of envy, pride, guilt, selflessness, bigotry and love are subtle and spot-on."
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