The Burgess Boys

Thoughts tbbbyes The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, Random House 2013, 320 pages

Why I read this:  I very much enjoyed Strout’s Pulitzer (2009) winning Olive Kittredge and was eager to try her next book. Laurie of Bay State RA generously offered to send me her ARC. The setting of Maine appealed to me and I knew it would appeal to my Auntie who lives there. I knew I was going to see this favorite Auntie in Florida last week so I made sure I finished it in time to give to her.

This is a family story sparked by how to ‘deal’ with a teenaged son/nephew who has committed a horrific unexplainable incident; loosely based, perhaps inspired by, a true incident in a small town in Maine. I thought this part, the resulting aftermath of publicity and fear and discussion among varied groups to be very balanced and very interesting without giving any answers.

I really enjoyed this book and the character development, especially. At first, I was worried that none of the characters were ‘likable’ but I enjoyed the smooth unrolling of the story and how the family members interacted/explored their own motivations against their shared history.

Please see Laurie’s review “Family Dysfunction, Maine-Style” here. A big thank you to her for sharing.

Rating: 4 slices of pie



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26 Responses to “The Burgess Boys”

  1. 1 Laurie C June 6, 2013 at 7:33 am

    How nice! You’re very welcome, of course. I’m glad you liked it!

  2. 3 Jeanne June 6, 2013 at 8:08 am

    I started reading this one when it first came out, and with all the excitement around our house I put it down and haven’t picked it back up. It so far hasn’t seized me the way the Olive stories did.

  3. 5 dastevensish June 6, 2013 at 8:13 am

    I’ve wanted to read Olive Kitteridge for a quite a while, but now I’m wondering if I wouldn’t like to read this one even more.

  4. 7 Jennifer June 6, 2013 at 10:01 am

    I’ve wondered about whether to pick this one up or not. I think you’ve ended my internal debate. Thanks!

  5. 9 bermudaonion(Kathy) June 6, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I have both of Kitteridge’s books and really do need to try one. The dysfunction in this one appeals to me.

  6. 11 Ti June 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Sounds like everything was well balanced overall.I never read Olive although I wanted to.

  7. 13 lakesidemusing June 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Strout really is a master of that ‘smooth unrolling’! Even though none of the characters were especially likable, it is a credit to her writing that I cared about all of them.

  8. 15 bybeebooks June 8, 2013 at 5:17 am

    This book is getting closer and closer on my reading horizon, and with great rapidity. I predict that by this time next month, it will be bumping up against my spyglass.

    • 16 Care June 8, 2013 at 9:46 am

      I don’t know how many books are ahead of this on your stack but the rate you read ’em in May – you’ll have this done already! :)

  9. 17 Athira June 8, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    I’m thrilled that you liked this one. I just won it at a giveaway and can’t wait to dig in.

  10. 19 iliana June 8, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I don’t think I’ve heard of this book before! What a tough subject matter but it sounds like a great read.

  11. 21 Sheila (Book Journey) June 9, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Nice! You know, I struggled a bit with Olive Kitteridge… cant recall why… this one sounds good.

    • 22 Care June 10, 2013 at 8:36 am

      Yea, I recall that some people just couldn’t ‘like’ Olive but she had a soft center under a very tough hard outer shell, if I remember correctly.

  12. 23 Lisa June 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    I thought Strout created a terrific balance between the stories of the siblings and the larger story of tolerance.

  13. 25 stacybuckeye June 9, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    I’m glad you liked it so much. This is one I’ve been on the fence about but you’ve made me think I would like it.

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I prefer pi.


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My first attempt at cinnamon rolls. They don't look perfect but the taste is.


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