Tuesday 30 July 2013

The Burgess Boys

Finished July 28
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

This novel tells us the story of Bob and Jim Burgess and their sister Susan. The story begins when the boys are in their fifties and Susan's teen son Zach does something unthinkable. All three adults grew up in Maine, and while Bob and Jim left, Susan stayed, married, had Zach, divorced, and just tried to do the best she could. But their town started to shrink with all the young people leaving, until it became a haven for refugees from Somalia. Zach, for reasons unclear even to him, has taken a frozen pig's head and rolled it into a building that the Somalis use as a mosque. Zack is ignorant of the meaning of his action to his victims until it becomes a rallying point in the nation for intolerance and hate.
Jim left Maine years ago, becoming well known for his successful defence of a client and going on to a big New York City law firm. Bob has also gone to New York City, but his legal career has taken a different route. Susan calls on Jim to help with Zack's situation, but it is Bob who will come with earnestness, trying to be there for his twin sister despite her feelings toward him.
Jim, Bob, and Susan, are all shaped by their father's death, run over by a car they were in, with Bob, too young to remember, supposedly responsible for moving the gear shift out of park. While this incident had a huge effect on all of them, it is something never talked about. The boys return to Maine to assist their sister brings it back to the surface in ways unexpected, and relationship changing.
This is a book about the impulses of youth, about guilt and tolerance, about how you can never really escape where you came from. A book about a family, and their baggage. A book about growth and community.

1 comment:

  1. There are so many good books out there Irene. Enjoy.