The Burgess Boys

The Burgess Boys

A Novel

Book - 2013
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post * NPR * Good Housekeeping

Elizabeth Strout "animates the ordinary with an astonishing force," wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge . The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout's "magnificent gift for humanizing characters." Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature.
 
Haunted by the 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 possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan--the Burgess sibling who stayed behind--urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten 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.
 
With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout's newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

Praise for The Burgess Boys

"What truly makes Strout exceptional . . . is the perfect balance she achieves between the tides of story and depths of feeling." -- Chicago Tribune

"Strout's prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity." -- The New Yorker
 
"Elizabeth Strout's first two books, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle, were highly thought of, and her third, Olive Kitteridge, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. But The Burgess Boys, her most recent novel, is her best yet." -- The Boston Globe
 
"A portrait of an American community in turmoil that's as ambitious as Philip Roth's American Pastoral but more intimate in tone." -- Time
 
"[Strout's] extraordinary narrative gifts are evident again. . . . At times [ The Burgess Boys is] almost effortlessly fluid, with superbly rendered dialogue, sudden and unexpected bolts of humor and . . . startling riffs of gripping emotion." --Associated Press
 
"[Strout] is at her masterful best when conjuring the two Burgess boys. . . . Scenes between them ring so true." -- San Francisco Chronicle
 
"No one should be surprised by the poignancy and emotional vigor of Elizabeth Strout's new novel. But the broad social and political range of The Burgess Boys shows just how impressively this extraordinary writer continues to develop." -- The Washington Post
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400067688
Branch Call Number: STR
Characteristics: 320 p. ;,25 cm

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NWPLindabear
Dec 10, 2016

The Burgess Boys was supposed to be about how a teenage boy commits a hate crime against (called a prank) the Somalis living in his town and it affects the community and his family. I thought, “Oh, this could be so interesting! What would happen if someone I love committed a hate crime? How would I react? Hopefully I’ll learn more about the Somali culture through this book too.” What it was instead was how these white affluent characters tried to wiggle out of blame for this kid’s crime. One lawyer had to give a hollow apology to the townspeople and then made a hasty departure and worried over the fact that his reputation had been ruined. His brother moaned all book about what his role had been in their father’s death as a kid and how he’d been in his brother’s shadow his whole life and that he wasn’t as successful of a lawyer. Really? Poor guy. Ugh. And then the Somalis in the book are given very little actual time. In this 300+ page book, I’d guess maybe 10 percent of it had anything to do with the Somalis. Some of the townspeople would say demeaning things about the refugees and the author did little to counter those comments. I said more than once out loud, “Is this book racist?” It felt racist. It cared more about the two white, affluent lawyers and their lame personal crises and their sister and her kid (who, by the way, gets sent to Europe to live with his rich dad and finds confidence and happiness, woo-freaking-hoo, lucky kid) than the Somalis in the town who remained uncomfortable and scared. One Somali man seemed to try to find a connection to the people of the town, but it felt so much like an afterthought. I really felt like Strout missed a major opportunity here to discuss cultural relations and to show how a community could open its arms and accept a group of people who are seeking asylum. But nope.

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MarshMeyer
Sep 26, 2016

I enjoyed this book for the character development, the timely subject matter, and the movement of the story. I have read Elizabeth Strout before and I do think her character development is one of her strong suits. I could picture the three siblings as though I was watching a movie, seeing their movements and expressions through her descriptions. The story also had some small surprise developments along the way which kept you interested as well.

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uncommonreader
Jul 16, 2016

This is a story of three siblings, each burdened by guilt in some way. The presence of a Somali community in small town Maine is interesting, but they are remain superficial characters, as seen by the people in the town. This is a liberal perspective on middle class life. The quality of the writing masks the commonplaceness of the narrative.

sandy165 Jul 18, 2015

jk,

k
Kkomp4
Jul 11, 2015

This was a great book. Full of surprises and suspense.

w
Wong_Anne
Jun 09, 2015

[2014 Bailey Prize FINALIST] Brothers, Jim and Bob Burgess are both lawyers in NYC but with varying levels of success, both professionally and socially. Their sister still lives in the small Maine town where they were raised. When her son’s thoughtless prank becomes imbued with much more meaning, the brothers are asked to return Shirley Falls to provide legal assistance and advice. The sibling rivalry that defined the boys as children still exists and the story is as much about relationships as it is about the crime with which Zach is charged.

VV3 Feb 04, 2015

If you enjoy books that deal with family dynamics, "The Burgess Boys" is a good one as a crisis in the family brings sibling relationships to the forefront and changes them all. This book is a good one for Book Discussion groups with lots of interwoven themes to discover.

FederalWayEdna Dec 30, 2014

Strout excels in characterization - this time, she has created a complex adult siblings' relationship that is frustrating for the reader who has to wonder why these two brothers and their sister even bother talking to each other. The more you read, the more you understand their complicated bond when the brothers return to their small hometown in Maine to help their sister and her son who is arrested for tossing a pig's head into a mosque. Secrets are exposed including one that includes the premature death of their father.

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lizzay_aldea
Nov 16, 2014

Can I get 2 copies please.

Thank You

sfujimura Aug 22, 2014

For such a high rated book, I found this novel a struggle to get through and boring. I am 1/4 of the way from being finished, and honestly, I don't know if I care enough to find out how it ends (which is hard for me to do, as i NEVER not finish a book). It's definitely not a complicated novel, rather it is one that is just simply boring. I would pass on this, as it's just "meh"....

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sharonb122 Apr 06, 2013

p. 311: Bob to Jim: "You have family. You have a wife who hates you. 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."

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