American Lit · Books that have film Adaptations

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

This is a book telling the story of the five tragic Lisbon sisters who are remembered by the boys who watched them from afar.

This book will never be a ‘favourite’. Why should it be? Suicide cannot be glamorized and making it so is wrong. Reading this book, I can clearly see that the girls were trapped and lonely. Doing what they did was a drastic course of action but why they did it is something which can be endlessly discussed and commented upon endlessly without it having a right or wrong answer.

The boys take up the role of voyeurs and the prose is something else entirely. Its so rich, and you do really sometimes feel as if you are the one looking through the binoculars. Its entirely from the boys’ perspective. When the girls are shut off from the outside world, you feel too as you have been cut off too. Shut out the light. Shut off the air. Sit and burn.

When I first heard of this book and its film, I completely misinterpreted it as a book for teenagers. But its not. Its so mind-blowing and strange. With what happens at the end, you just know it is going to happen. Its inevitable, and sad too but in reading the book you just get the feeling that you are venturing to some dark place of which you don’t want to go to.

What also struck me about this book is the way it presents suburban society. People who comment on other people’s lives – about their living situations, about what they wear, etc. The people in need become an obvious object of contempt to be discussed – but will you help them? No!

Near the end of the book, when the girls are reaching out to the boys, you hope in your heart that the girls would break free and have a chance to live a good life away from the evil of their current lives in a seemingly ordinary neighbourhood in suburban Michigan. In reading it you feel that ugly glimmer of hope. You know it is not going to be.
Over all, a book that could probably be used as a conversation starter to do with the psychology of adolesence and teenage suicide.

MY RATING: **** / *****

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