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 listeners long after the ausiobook is over. 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.
©2013 Elizabeth Strout (P)2013 Random House Audio
"Deeply human... Though loneliness and loss haunt these pages, Strout also supplies gentle humor and a nourishing dose of hope.” (Booklist)
I read this novel after David Sedaris recommended another book by this author. The story is intricate and a portrait of the difficulties in every family. I just kept waiting for the big bombshell and it never came. Interesting enough to pass the time but not a favorite.
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.
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