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The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
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The Virgin Suicides (original 1993; edition 1994)

by Jeffrey Eugenides

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9,091167329 (3.81)1 / 301
Member:chevrefeuille
Title:The Virgin Suicides
Authors:Jeffrey Eugenides
Info:Grand Central Publishing (1994), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:death, suicide, american, mi, 1970's, fiction, pb, mooched, outstanding

Work details

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (1993)

  1. 72
    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: share the same exquisite sense of setting: boring, but not terrible suburban America, second half of last century.
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    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (readerbabe1984, rosylibrarian)
  3. 20
    White Oleander by Janet Fitch (rosylibrarian)
  4. 10
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: Virgin Suicides is pretty heavy going however there are quite a few films about teenage angst they might work. Some are darker than others and some are quite old but they could work with Perks... Breakfast Club, Heathers, Girl Interrupted, Rebel without a cause, Footloose, The Year my Voice Broke, Donnie Darko, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.… (more)
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    See How Small: A Novel by Scott Blackwood (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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    The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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    Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote (weener)
    weener: Both books with a srong sense of setting, with a sense of foreboding and decay.
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    Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy (freddlerabbit)
    freddlerabbit: The styles and narrative perspectives of these two books remind me strongly of one another.
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    bookmomo: Both original and intriguing stories about loss and grieving.
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English (158)  Dutch (4)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (166)
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (author of Middlesex and more recently The Marriage Plot) seems to have been around for ages, despite only being published in 1993.

The novel is set in 1970s Michigan, USA and centres around the Lisbon girls, who - we learn very early on - all commit suicide.

Their decline and ultimate demise is narrated in first person plural, which I found confusing in the beginning until I realised I wasn't just reading their story as witnessed by a teenage boy, but from the perspective of a group of boys.

Their curiosity about the Lisbon girls fills the pages, each of them having their own story to tell about one of the sisters. This fixation develops into a morbid fascination that never really leaves the boys in their later lives.

Despite the somewhat dark subject matter of teenage depression and suicide, Eugenides is somehow able to weave in plenty of humorous moments and amusing observations and his writing is a pleasure to consume.

The Virgin Suicides is a haunting but rewarding read, and I would definitely consider reading more from Eugenides in the future. ( )
  Carpe_Librum | Jun 1, 2015 |
The story is told by this group of boy-men (they are men now I guess technically but they started it all when they were children and can't move past it) who spent their childhood obsessed with the Lisbon sisters (Cecilia, Mary, Bonnie, Lux, Therese). As the title suggests, the sisters begin committing suicide (though not all virgins, so whatchu on about, Eugenides?!) and the boys (yes, even the Internet is just like 'hey, they're just the neighborhood boys, don't worry about names') are trying to piece together the mystery that is the Lisbon girls.

It's a really different take on a coming of age story and I have recommended it to a lot of my friends on that basis. I'm interested in seeing what else Eugenides has to offer. ( )
  CarleyShea | Feb 5, 2015 |
This is a hard one to rate and review. It's a very beautifully written book and the unique outside perspective is what carries the book. But I found myself liking the concept of this book much more than how the book actually played out. I would have been fine with not knowing all of the answers and not getting to know the girls personally if there had been more to the story. More piecing together of the mystery even if the mystery wasn't solved. As I continued reading and figured out that this book wasn't necessarily about the girls but really about male youth in the 1970's it really was hard not to be disappointed. I am not in need of more stories about male adolescence. Frankly not much happens in this book, one comment I read on goodreads is that it's "masturbatory reminiscence of what it felt like to be an American middle class white boy in suburbs in the 1950s (Mike Finn)" which I think is accurate and it left me wanting more. I mean really nothing happens. We don't learn much at all about the girls. We already knew they were going to commit suicide from the beginning. And these things could have worked well for me if we had gotten more in some other sense. I am glad I read it and I will be watching the film adaptation to see how they worked with the perspective which is so crucial to this book.
I don't know this seems harsh but at the same time I did like it in ways and it's just really a hard one. I'm not sure how exactly I feel. ( )
1 vote morgantaylor | Jan 17, 2015 |
Jeffrey Eugenides' books are not the easiest to read, combining anecdotal angst from his own background with a sort of modern American mythology, but I seem to be hooked anyway. The Virgin Suicides is probably his most famous title - with 'the film of the book', starring Kirsten Dunst - but also the shortest and the strangest. I don't think I could have handled more pages on the subject!

Narrated by a group of teenage boys, looking back as men on the sad demise of a neighbourhood family, the story charts the suicide of one young girl, Cecilia Lisbon, the impact on her family, and then the climactic response of her four sisters. Set once again in Grosse Pointe, although never directly referenced, Eugenides' once again balances the unlikely events of the plot with teenage angst and the very real depiction of despair. I felt sorry for the remaining Lisbon girls, not only for losing a sister, but also for seemingly being punished by their parents for not dying. The crumbling house is a haunting display of the family's grief.

A very taut and poignant study of loss and longing, brief but powerful. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Dec 17, 2014 |
I'm not quit sure what to think of this book, but I know overall that I will not be keeping it on my bookshelf. Sure, the writing style was nice and sort of pretty (the only reason I didn't give it 1 star), but attempting to give insight about the tragic suicide of five sisters from the perspective of their fellow MALE schoolmates, and neighbors, who are obsessed with them? A horrible choice.

And then, after all the speculation about why the girls killed themselves, the last page of the novel insinuates that their reasons for committing suicide were of a selfish nature, and they just could not handle what the world had to offer. As someone who has dealt with depression, I loathe the idea that people kill themselves in order to hurt others. This essentially makes a person's depression all about other people rather than oh I dunno the ACTUAL person who is going through all these horrible events and emotions? The boys narrating the girls' stories forever think they are the key to helping the girls, and that the girls care as much about them as they are obsessive about the girls themselves. Which is so completely wrong, and their obsession with the girls is creepy. Keeping hairbrushes the girls used, constantly spying on them, etc.

In the end I don't know what I'm supposed to take away from this novel that wouldn't be a skewed version of how to view people going through hard times (aka severe depression, etc.) . Maybe I missed stuff, or important "genius" tidbits hidden in the novel, but I just find the choice of narrator(s) as not romantic or akin to childhood (as positive reviewers say it is) but as offensive and creepy.

Disappointed as Jeffrey Eugenides' book Middlesex is one of my favorite novels, and the first work I ever read by him. Now THAT is an amazing novel. ( )
  Czarmoriarty | Dec 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
Mr. Eugenides is blessed with the storyteller's most magical gift, the ability to transform the mundane into the extraordinary.
added by stephmo | editNew York Times, Suzanne Berne (Apr 25, 1993)
 
Adopting a tone simultaneously elegiac and loony, The Virgin Suicides takes the dark stuff of Greek tragedy and reworks it into an eccentric, mesmerizing, frequently hilarious American fantasy about the tyranny of unrequited love, and the unknowable heart of every family on earth — but especially the family next door.
 

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Jeffrey Eugenidesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Landrum, NickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide -- it was Mary this time, and the sleeping pills, like Therese -- the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope.
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Obviously, Doctor… you’ve never been a thirteen-year-old girl.
They knew everything about us though we couldn’t fathom them at all.
The girls were right in choosing to love Trip, because he was the only boy who could keep his mouth shut.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446670251, Paperback)

Juxtaposing the most common and the most gothic, the humorous and the tragic, author Jeffrey Eugenides creates a vivid and compelling portrait of youth and lost innocence. He takes us back to the elm-lined streets of suburbia in the seventies, and introduces us to the men whose lives have been forever changed by their fierce, awkward obsession with five doomed sisters: brainy Therese, fastidious Mary, ascetic Bonnie, libertine Lux, and pale, saintly Cecilia, whose spectacular demise inaugurates "the year of the suicides." This is the debut novel that caused a sensation and won immediate acclaim from the critics-a tender, wickedly funny tale of love and terror, sex and suicide, memory and imagination.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:13 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The narrator and his friends piece together the events that led up to the suicides of the Lisbon girls--brainy Therese, fastidious Mary, ascetic Bonnie, libertine Lux, and saintly Cecilia.

(summary from another edition)

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