I thought Olive Kitteridge was as a master work, but I found The Burgess Boys even more compelling. The reader is brilliant and perfectly captures the Maine-ness that is such an essential element of this thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable novel.
It is as if someone was bored and decided to record the day to day goings on and then published it as a book so they could bore more people.
I hung on to the end but the payoff was not worth the pain of witnessing the cruelty contained in this story. Give me Sarah Barton and her mother any day.
When the characters remain with you long after you're finished listening, and when you catch yourself wondering how they're doing, you cross over the invisible line where good fiction becomes a more powerful force for change than any work of non-fiction.
We are introduced to complex characters with the flaws to which all of us are confronted and we discover that it is within the flaws themselves that our greatest strengths can blossom.This is a universal theme in good fiction. Not only did the main characters evolve, sometimes in spite of themselves, but I did too. It is not through confronting our shadow side alone and in isolation, but in the messy work of recognizing our shadow rather than projecting it and then being there for each other through the ugly and the profane without scapegoating. I became so proud of the siblings who slowly revealed bits and pieces of their pasts through surprising twists and turns. I also loved the mystery woman, the neighbor/tenant with a vision for seeing the world through a larger lens and the Muslim immigrant who had that same insight.
I didn't care for the story at all. I didn't think the ending was true to the characters that have been developed and left the reader dangling. I did think the recording was excellent.
As far back as the Bible and probably before that, strong women take back their inferior lovers.... while weak women hunt for needy men. Why is that? Could it be true, as the saying goes,' women seem to get the man they think they deserve.' This is a book about women, not men. Women trying to negotiate their way in a society that is often accepting of them.....not just in Somalia....but here. And, by their own neediness seem to foster another generation of the same self indulgent men.
The prose was good. But I felt rung out by the story and totally sad.