HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Loading...

The Burgess Boys (2013)

by Elizabeth Strout

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,3101605,943 (3.73)196
  1. 00
    Run by Ann Patchett (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: A dramatic incident provokes adult siblings to explore their lives and relationships in these moving and lyrical novels. While more about family than race, both books include thought-provoking meditations on the complexity of racial relations in 21st century America.… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 196 mentions

English (161)  German (1)  All languages (162)
Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
It was the delicate flow of the writing that carried me through this book, not the subject matter. I'm just sick of hearing about New York City and Baby Boomers whining about how things didn't work out the way they'd planned and how surprised they are to be growing old. I have trouble caring about people who willfully avoid self-reflection, in spite of all of the hours they spend on therapists' couches. I have trouble feeling sorry for people who've leveraged their privilege to engineer their lives just as they want them, and when (or if) they finally realize that they're vacuous people living meaningless lives, they sabotage themselves, giving themselves yet another reason to repeat the "woe is me" mantra.

That's not to say that I'm not just as ridiculous and self-indulgent and whiny and unpleasant. But at least I'm self-reflective enough to recognize this and to know from the start that life isn't going to have any more meaning than we assign to it, and even then we die and disappear from the Earth. Life owes me nothing, which is something the main characters of The Burgess Boys seem not to grasp.

At the center of the novel are issues of race and immigration and the ambivalence and uncertainty felt by both the Somali immigrants and the residents of the Maine town where they've settled, but to the main characters, they themselves are the center of the story. It's completely realistic because we're all the stars of our own lives and no matter how much we try to connect with the struggles of others, we're always going to feel our own personal struggles more acutely, but this reflection of reality just depresses me right now.
Of course this isn't Elizabeth Strout's fault. She just wrote a beautiful book that puts the spotlight on unpleasant people while the good people---Margaret Estaver and Abdikarim, mostly---are stuck in the shadows. But of course, because they're good people, they don't mind not being in the spotlight.

Sure, by the end the main characters seem to be on the verge of learning something important and becoming decent people, but I dislike them so much, I find it difficult even to cheer for their maybe-success. Maybe I was in a bad mood when I read this book, or maybe it's just the Gen-Xer in me who can't quite appreciate this one. This novel hardens my heart, and I don't want to have a hard heart. ( )
1 vote ImperfectCJ | Feb 10, 2016 |
The Burgess Boys is the second book I have read by Elizabeth Strout; I also read Amy and Isabelle a few years ago and very much enjoyed it.

burgess boysThis novel is about grown-up siblings Jim, Bob and Susan. Their lives were rocked by a tragic accident during their childhood, which caused Bob and Jim to leave their hometown of Maine and move to New York. Now, many years later, the siblings have lives of their own – both good and bad – but the brothers find themselves back in Maine when Susan’s 19-year-old son Zach finds himself in trouble.

I really enjoyed this book, which reminded me of Anne Tyler in the way that it is very much about the characters and how they relate to each other. The perspective shifts a lot which I found worked well, as it gives you an insight into several of the characters and what motivates them. The relationship between the siblings themselves is most interesting – Bob and Jim are very different and they have a strained relationship – Jim is really unpleasant to Bob, but Bob just seems to tolerate it, while Susan is quite a cold character who has isolated herself. I really enjoyed how the story unfolded. There is also the perspective given of a Muslim elder who has moved to Maine, which is relevant to the story and also adds another interesting element to the novel.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel. It isn’t an action-packed thriller, but it is very much about the characters and their relationships, and what has made them behave the way they do. I would definitely recommend this to fans of Anne Tyler, and character-driven novels.

My rating: 9 out of 10 ( )
  AHouseOfBooks | Jan 27, 2016 |
Hmmm. For me, this felt more like a book I needed to read based on the critical acclaim, than one I was excited to read. This was a mechanically-sound book, certainly well-written and narratively developed, but for me that might've been the problem. At it's core, it felt more like an advanced writing class - an exercise in execution - and not one that connects and sticks. I didn't hate it, nor did I love it--it was just a check off the list, which is probably the worst place for a book to live. ( )
  beetlebub2000 | Dec 10, 2015 |
This book deals with many subjects. It focuses on the issues of a disfunctional family spread between small hometown living and the big city. The characters face issues ranging from pride and social status to prejudice and guilt after one of the children commits a hate crime against the local immigrant population. Secrets abound and issues are all over the place. In a time where just your name can save you if you run in the right circles, this book will hit home.

For me, it was too much of everything. It felt like someone had formulated a mathematical equation on just the right things to put in a book at just the right places. In that it seemed nearly flawless, but while I retained the story, I didn't feel the story. It didn't linger with me the way I would have wanted a book on these subjects to linger or even brush past me. I wanted a deeper connection with something, even if it wasn't a specific character I connected with. Mostly it felt like I breezed past everything no matter how attentive I was to what I was reading. I didn't skim through the book and yet somehow it felt like I did, which was a disappointment for a book with so many people singing its praises.

It wasn't a bad book, but it certainly wasn't the best that I read recently. It was enjoyable to a point and it kept me company when I had nothing to do. ( )
  mirrani | Dec 6, 2015 |
Hmmm. For me, this felt more like a book I needed to read based on the critical acclaim, than one I was excited to read. This was a mechanically-sound book, certainly well-written and narratively developed, but for me that might've been the problem. At it's core, it felt more like an advanced writing class - an exercise in execution - and not one that connects and sticks. I didn't hate it, nor did I love it--it was just a check off the list, which is probably the worst place for a book to live. ( )
  angiestahl | Nov 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
To my husband

Jim Tierney
First words
My mother and I talked a lot about the Burgess Family. "The Burgess kids," she called them.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Information from the Catalan Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haunted by a 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 possible could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a legal aid attorney who idolises Jim, has always taken it in his stride.

But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has landed 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.
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Catalyzed by a nephew's thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confront painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys, a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives.… (more)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
408 wanted
3 pay5 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.73)
0.5 1
1 9
1.5 2
2 27
2.5 7
3 93
3.5 60
4 180
4.5 42
5 68

Audible.com

An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 103,143,997 books! | Top bar: Always visible