Need a new book recommendation? We suggest The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides – it perfectly captures the adolescent obsession and infatuation that so often comes hand-in-hand with pubescence and High School. Written from the perspective of a group of young boys in the quiet town of Grosse Pointe (a suburb of Detroit.) The Virgin Suicides details their attempts to understand the mysterious Lisbon sisters, the youngest of which, Cecilia, has committed suicide at the age of 13.
The Lisbon girls (Mary, Therese, Bonnie, Lux, and Cecilia) come from a very conservative household. Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon hold the girls to strict guidelines, and as a result they are largely isolated from the rest of the kids from school. Since most of their time is spent behind closed doors at home, the neighborhood boys are left to imagine what might occupy the minds of the elusive sisters.
An unnamed narrator leads us along, now years later, detailing the compiled evidence from various interviews and apparently years of research that the boys (now young men) have put together. The book is a dedicated attempt at piecing together all known experience that Grosse Pointe and the Lisbon sisters have shared. It’s immediately apparent that the Lisbons had a huge impact on these young boys lives, who since the very beginning have wanted nothing more than to understand the girls.
Though the book deals with an overtly morbid matter (teen suicide), it does so with a grace and eloquence that makes the subject tolerable. Quite often the book reads like poetry. I’d liken each sentence to a brush stroke, each with purpose, one after the other. Together painting an ever widening portrait of the town, its inhabitants, and most importantly; the Lisbons. That being said, I don’t want to give the impression that The Virgin Suicides romanticizes suicide. Eugenides deftly conveys the confusion and depression that befalls the small town as a result of Cecilia’s suicide.
It’s worth noting that The Virgin Suicides has also been adapted into a feature film, directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Kirsten Dunst. Having seen the film I can say that it stays very close to the book, and many lines are pulled directly from the novel. So whether you prefer to read your stories or watch them, in this case you’re covered. Both the novel and the film can be found on our shelves, so come on in and ask an employee to help you track one down.
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