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The Burgess Boys: A Novel by Elizabeth…
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The Burgess Boys: A Novel (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Elizabeth Strout

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1,3091595,950 (3.73)196
Member:BookBully
Title:The Burgess Boys: A Novel
Authors:Elizabeth Strout
Info:Random House (2013), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Personal Library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:My 2012 Book Challenge

Work details

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout (2013)

  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)
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Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
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 |
listening to audio ( )
  sidrose | Jan 23, 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)
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To my husband

Jim Tierney
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My mother and I talked a lot about the Burgess Family. "The Burgess kids," she called them.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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