She said she is looking forward to learning from the community in large part because she knows that her next challenge is to work out how she further uses the knowledge she has amassed in writing "The Burgess Boys. I feel quite the opposite. Strout's reading will be at 4 p. Yusuf hopes to see people from outside the Somali community too. On Air. Play Pause. Share story Twitter Facebook. Elizabeth Strout, author of "The Burgess Boys".
Why didn't Ms. Strout develop Zak's character more? Why did we never really know WHY he did that? Why did she make him so stupid I mean, really, who in this day and age does not know that pigs might be offensive to Muslims? I never felt like I loved Olive Kitteridge, but I did not love this book. I never felt like we got to know any of the main characters very well--not like the Olive Kitteridge character. And what I did know of them, I didn't like. I can honestly say I did not like a single character in this book. The author had a great opportunity to explore more of the Somali culture and to create a real conflict when one of their leaders felt sympathy for Zak.
Two parallel stories focusing on the Somalis and Zak's family could have been interesting.
Instead, the pig head story just fizzles and fades away, we are shown nothing but glimpses into the Somali's lives, and we get thrown into the bizarre side story of Jim and his affair and his long-ago lie about who was responsible for his father's death. Jim, Bob, and Susan were a trio of pathetic losers.
Don't waste your time with this book or expect it to be great just because you loved Olive Kitteridge. You will be sorely disappointed. View all 6 comments. Take a dysfunctional family, raised in a small town in Maine by a mother who liked to yell quite a bit, and who raised some unlikable children, and one would usually have a novel no one would want to read. In Strout's daft hands, however, she is able to peel away the layers and make the reader want to take a second look. She gives us something, a reason maybe, and allows us to look deep inside these people and find what it is that makes them so unlikable.
Once she accomplishes that, the reader i Take a dysfunctional family, raised in a small town in Maine by a mother who liked to yell quite a bit, and who raised some unlikable children, and one would usually have a novel no one would want to read. Once she accomplishes that, the reader is ready to go wherever she takes them. Families and what that actually means, a crisis in which some people change for the better and some for the worst.
Bigotry, and showing all sides of the crisis. Characters that develop as different memories are revealed and when nothing else is left, they are still family. This is more than likely another novel of Strout's that will be picked by book clubs, and it should be. I can see much that groups will love discussing. View all 5 comments. Jun 15, Sara rated it did not like it Shelves: abandoned.
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In keeping with my new "rules", if it doesn't appeal move on to something that does. I was interested in the beginning, but that passed very quickly and when the Somali issue arose I began to feel it was just too much like watching the news which I promise I get enough of. I may not have given this a fair chance, but that is OK, I have limited time and I need to find those books that speak to me. I have another Strout on my shelf and will give that one a go soon. I did like the two of her books In keeping with my new "rules", if it doesn't appeal move on to something that does.
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I did like the two of her books that I have already read. So, this one might just be the exception for me. View all 15 comments. May 16, Nicholas rated it liked it. It would be difficult to top Olive Kitteredge, and indeed this novel did not.
‘Burgess Boys’ blossoms with tragicomic brilliance
While the writing itself is lovely, I had three real problems with The Burgess Boys that made it hard for me to love: 1 the incident at the heart of the novel--a teenage boy throws a pig's head into a Somali mosque in small-town Maine--is really just an excuse to look at the relationships between the people in that boy's family his mother and two uncles, the "Boys" of the title. In one way, that's OK the book is c It would be difficult to top Olive Kitteredge, and indeed this novel did not.
In one way, that's OK the book is called the "Burgess Boys," after all, not "the Ahmed Boys" , but Strout then also spends a small portion of the book exploring the Somali community in Shirley Falls, Maine. But it's just too little to make the reader care about these characters or really understand their situation or perspective. The options, it seems to me, were to either write a novel about Somalis in Maine or to use a different incident as catalyst for the events that transpire between the Burgesses and just focus on them.
But the way it's written, the Somalis--who are ostensibly a central part of the novel-- get short shrift and one doesn't feel satisfied with Strout's treatment of them. Add to this the fact that it's always a little unclear why Zach the teenage boy throws the head into the mosque in the first place, and it just feels a bit contrived, like Strout wanted very much to write about this growing immigrant community in Maine but that she also just couldn't stop herself from writing about the same sorts of Maine characters she wrote about in Kitteredge or Amy and Isabelle.
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Yes, there are two siblings who are male, but the teenage boy's mother, Susan, is also a Burgess and she's key to the whole story, and not incidentally, the twin of one of the boys. I get that "The Burgess Siblings" or "The Burgess Kids" doesn't have the same ring, but maybe Strout needed to investigate different titles.
As it is, I didn't feel that the relationship between Jim and Bob was so central that it deserved highlighting in the title to the exclusion of other characters and plot elements. This is really a story about three siblings, not just the two who are boys. While Strout writes well enough that it's quite easy to read The Burgess Boys, the novel just didn't leave me feeling particularly satisfied, especially the final part where things unravel for one character and come to resolution for others.
The problems in The Burgess Boys seem to be fundamentally about plotting and overall conception, not writing itself, and because I loved Olive Kitteredge and always like reading about Maine, I'll certainly read whatever Strout publishes next. But I hope it's not like this again. Jan 27, Deborah rated it liked it. I received an advanced copy of this book in a Goodread giveaway.
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I'm conflicted about this book. But it seemed like something was missing. Jim is an arrogant corporate lawyer with a sense of entitlement the size of New York. He treats his younger brother with complete disdain. Bob, who is insecure and awkward, idolizes Jim an I received an advanced copy of this book in a Goodread giveaway. Bob, who is insecure and awkward, idolizes Jim and wants to be just like him. The three siblings went through a traumatic event as children that changed the course of their lives. It's the elephant in the room that no one talks about and no one can hide from.
I'm glad I stuck with this book, because it does pay off in the end. Elizabeth Strout is a gifted writer and her prose is often beautiful. One of my favorite passages comes near the end of the book. Kids who are furious with you. A brother and sister who make you insane. And a nephew who used to be kind of a drip but apparently is not so much of a drip now. That's called family". Based on the writing style alone I could give this book 5 stars, which is why I am so conflicted about it.
The Burgess Boys | Washington Independent Review of Books
But it took me days to plow through the beginning which is why I'm only giving it 3. I think this book might actually be better on a second reading. Thank you, Goodreads, and Random House Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to review this advance copy. View all 4 comments. This is a subtle and layered story about a middle-class dysfunctional family. Yes, I know. Another one. Maybe you've had your fill of novels about how American families disintegrate for the year, but I must insist you read this one if you are a literary reader.