Book Review: The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides

The Times has claimed this novel to be “unstoppable” – Vogue describes it as “bewitching” – The New York Times have called it a “powerful opera.” But, what is it about The Virgin Suicides that has helped it to achieved it’s wide critical acclaim?… I figured from the title that this book may be about defiant and misunderstood youth – something along the lines of The Perks… or a John Green novel. And, in a particular way, it was. But, right from the first page, this book struck me as being something very different – I’d never run into a novel with such an interesting structure and presentation – it baffled me.

This story is about the 5 Libson Girls, isolated by an over-protective catholic mother whose refusal of regular rite-of-passage experiences left gaping emotional holes in the developing young, teenage women.  Documented by the boys who, 20 years prior, had a mild obsession with them, their lifestyles and their minds, told the profound story of five suicides; deaths that occurred right under their watchful senses. The narrator is one of the anonymous boys who obsessed over the girls – 20 years after all of the suicides, the group try to piece together (from the evidence they collected in interviews, articles [photos and such] and first hand experience) why the girls had brought themselves to do it, the sinful act of suicide.  The street which held the Libsons’ house watch discretely as the family began to recede from normal society and decay.

Although this story is truly profound, written brilliantly and has a complex storyline – it may not appeal to all audiences. What I thought would be a book aimed for teenagers, turned out to be a book rather aimed at an older audience. I sometimes got so deep into the various descriptions (which, might I add, are heavenly – the imagery is brilliant) that I got lost in the storyline and became generally confused. I haven’t yet watched the film, but I can assume that it will be a lot easier to understand. Perhaps if I watched the film, I could read the book again with more ease. So, if you’re dying to read this but have reservations as to whether you’ll understand it the first time around, my advice to you would be to watch the film – which has been said to stay very true to the book. If you’re a confident reader, I would recommend that you get straight into this story.


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