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The Burgess Boys: A Novel by Elizabeth…

The Burgess Boys: A Novel (edition 2013)

by Elizabeth Strout

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Title:The Burgess Boys: A Novel
Authors:Elizabeth Strout
Info:Random House (2013), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Personal Library
Tags:My 2012 Book Challenge

Work details

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

  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 174 (next | show all)
My husband has a saying that hurt people hurt. This book is the embodiment of that saying. The plot centers around two brothers' and their different choices in life and their seemingly different values. Each brother plays a different role in assisting their nephew who gets in a lot of trouble with the justice system involving very current hate crime issues. The character development is excellent. The transformation of both brothers was artfully accomplished. My favorite theme is how believing something to be true, even if it's not, can change your whole idea of yourself and therefore your life. Although I read this book on my kindle, I want this book on my shelf. ( )
  ErinDenver | Jun 12, 2017 |
Bob Burgess is as amiable a character as Olive Kittredge is prickly. He and his family, and their complicated dynamics, are the core of this novel. Well told and original. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Interesting book about dysfunctional, mean to each other siblings. About how family secrets can define and change your life and the lives of those around you. Kind of dull in places, but got better as the story went on. ( )
  sarahjvigen | Mar 23, 2017 |
Reading an Elizabeth Strout book reminds me of an often quoted saying: "Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle". I have a weakness for books dealing with dysfuctional families and no one does dysfunction as well as Strout. The book is worth reading for the prose alone.

I don't need to like or relate to the characters in a book to enjoy the story and appreciate the nuances, but the characters have to show change and growth. Strout's characters do just that. She excels at creating complicated, rather unlikable characters that while you may not grow to like by the end, but you begin to understand what makes them tick.

The Burgess boys, polar opposites, and profoundly affected by a traumatic event in their childhood, return to their hometown in Maine to deal with a crisis involving their sister Susan's teen-age son. Family secrets and troubled sibling relationships are revealed while the story deals with a myriad of sub-plots, including the assimilation of Somali immigrants, prejudice, guilt, and forgiveness. But at its core, The Burgess Boys is about family, flaws and all. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
Anybody else and I would have given this four stars. But it's not anybody else, it's Elizabeth Strout. First 3/4 is defintely a 5 but it tails off at the end into a lot of tidying up and some of the main elements of the story arc get short shrift such as the dissolution of the main characters' marriage but perhaps she thought she covered all of that in Olive Kittredge? Just didn't feel right.

Otherwise, a masterful storyteller still at the top of her craft. And what could be better as dual settings than Maine and Manhattan? ( )
  TimDel | Feb 2, 2017 |
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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.
Haiku summary
Did Bob kill father?
Did Zach act out a hate crime?
And what about Jim?

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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)

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