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 thoughts on “The Burgess Boys

  1. 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.

  2. dastevensish

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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! 🙂

    1. 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.

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