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The Virgin Suicides (1993)

by Jeffrey Eugenides

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,229232458 (3.79)1 / 359
The five Lisbon sisters are brought up in a strict household, and when the youngest kills herself, the oppression of the remaining sisters intensifies. As Therese, Mary, Bonnie and Lux are pulled deeper into isolation by their domineering mother, a group of neighborhood boys become obsessed with liberating the sisters. But what the boys don't know is, the Lisbon girls are beyond saving.… (more)
  1. 92
    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: share the same exquisite sense of setting: boring, but not terrible suburban America, second half of last century.
  2. 60
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (readerbabe1984, rosylibrarian)
  3. 30
    White Oleander by Janet Fitch (rosylibrarian)
  4. 20
    A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne (si)
  5. 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)
  6. 10
    See How Small by Scott Blackwood (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  7. 10
    Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote (weener)
    weener: Both books with a srong sense of setting, with a sense of foreboding and decay.
  8. 10
    Paint It Black by Janet Fitch (jbarry)
  9. 00
    Quiet Chaos by Sandro Veronesi (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Both original and intriguing stories about loss and grieving.
  10. 00
    Whores on the Hill: A Novel by Colleen Curran (jbarry)
  11. 00
    The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  12. 00
    Liars and Saints by Maile Meloy (freddlerabbit)
    freddlerabbit: The styles and narrative perspectives of these two books remind me strongly of one another.
  13. 00
    Practical Jean by Trevor Cole (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  14. 12
    We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (ainsleytewce)

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» See also 359 mentions

English (215)  Dutch (5)  German (3)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (230)
Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
Most of my theories on the world change every few years. New evidence, new voices in the mix, new ways of thinking tend to do that to a person. But my theory that every book written in the third-person plural is a masterpiece was formed when I read The Virgin Suicides back in my now-distant teens, and it remains unchallenged. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 5, 2021 |
I love the way the author depicts being a young girl and maturing both mentally and physically. The virgin suicides sums up how boys want to collect us (girls) like dolls, aiming to claim the prettiest or best, whatever they desire. They develop expectations and fantasies but as soon as we become the sexiest or hottest or whatever they want we aren’t desirable anymore. We become too real and are no longer an unnatainable dream in their head. ( )
  betay | Sep 11, 2021 |

Eugenides’ debut work focuses on one family in a Detroit suburb. The five Lisbon sisters chafe against their mother’s strict rules and attract the attention of the neighborbood boys. Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary and Therese are beautiful and eccentric, and off limits. And then one commits suicide, and the four remaining sisters struggle to find their way out of grief – both their own and their parents’.

The novel is narrated by a group of thirty-something men, looking back on their own early high-school years, and the way they were obsessed with the Lisbon girls. Watching – or more accurately, spying on – them, looking for clues as to what they were thinking and what they might do. They applaud the efforts of one jock to take the object of his affections, fourteen-year-old Lux, to the homecoming dance. And they watch as a missed curfew results in Mrs Lisbon’s ever restrictive rules. The boys are certain they will somehow rescue the girls. They cannot see that the troubles the girls face are much deeper than just being grounded.

I read Middlesex first and loved it. Eugenides can write characters that fairly jump off the page, they are so real and so passionate about their feelings. But this book is somewhat different. There is an ethereal quality to this novel. We never really know what happens inside the Lisbon home, we have only the memories of men who, some twenty years later, cannot let go of the events of that year. What they remember most clearly is how they felt – their hopes, dreams, passions, fears. And although the boys witnessed the girls’ final acts, they are haunted by what they did not – and never will – know. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jun 29, 2021 |
I feel conflicted about this book. The consensus seems to be that you either love it or hate it and I’m closer to love but I get the hate too. It is frustrating to read all these words dissecting the Lisbon girls through the lens of teenage boys who loved them without knowing them. But also that feels like it could be the biggest strength of the book, that the boys didn’t really know them so they projected all of their romantic teenage boy fantasies onto them, which possibly helped contribute to their deaths (and possibly didn’t because nobody understood the Lisbon girls well enough to know what motivated them). Do I wish the book was actually about the Lisbon girls and not about the effect their short lives had on these boys? Yes, but I recognize that that would be a different kind of book and it wouldn’t be what Eugenides was going for so ultimately I like the book that this actually is and not the book I was projecting my former teenage girl feelings on. ( )
  jobinsonlis | May 11, 2021 |
Don't tell anyone but they all die in the end. ( )
  curious_squid | Apr 5, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 215 (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.

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eugenides, Jeffreyprimary 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.
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The five Lisbon sisters are brought up in a strict household, and when the youngest kills herself, the oppression of the remaining sisters intensifies. As Therese, Mary, Bonnie and Lux are pulled deeper into isolation by their domineering mother, a group of neighborhood boys become obsessed with liberating the sisters. But what the boys don't know is, the Lisbon girls are beyond saving.

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