Wednesday, December 31, 2014
The Virgin Suicides: The Review
Getting under your skin in no time.
Frivolous and yet painstakingly serious.
These are just a few ways to describe the novel I'm about to tell you about.
This isn't the first I've read of Jeffrey Eugenides and what I've read so far has all been terrific. Middlesex is a tragic comedy in its own way and reads like a train, a book that stays with you longer than you anticipated.
The Virgin Suicides is of the same matter. The subject is darker and more final that the theme of Middlesex, but the subject is treated with such honesty, dropping the melodramatic veil most novels tend to have when dealing with suicides.
You follow the lives of five girls, generally called the Lisbon girls, through the eyes of the boys in their neighborhood. They rarely get into contact with the girls, so we get a very subjective and distant view of the girls' lives and what got into their minds when they set the events in motion.
Hence the title, which is a dead giveaway of what is happening in the book, the book doesn't pretend to have a plot that twists and turns as you read through. Instead you are reading a very emotional account of how some boys turned men feel as they reminisce about these events and try to understand why the Lisbon girls killed themselves. The answer is almost as elusive as the girls themselves.
In the wake of what they are planning, adults are in the story but treated with the lack of sympathy as youngsters dare to have for their elders. As if the girls were the definition of honesty and innocence and the parents were to blame for smothering them. As black and white their opinions are, they still cling to their angelic views of the girls up until the last page of the book.
On the cover this book is compared to The Catcher in the Rye but I can't agree with this. The Catcher is a novel read by almost everyone during high school, compulsary as it is, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with this book being read by teenagers with their emotions running high. The subject is touchy, even though it acts like a coming of age for the narrators, the girls rather chose to stay young forever by ending their lives before they could grow up and they could get acclimated with their new set of ideas.
But it's definitely something that needs to be read by as much people as possible because novels like this don't come around that often.