The Virgin Suicides
By: Jeffery Eugenides
Setting: Grosse Point Michigan, 1970's
Format: 243 pgs.
Verdict: READ IT
Rated: PG-13 (A bit creepy to be a PG book. Plus there's mentions of sex and language.)
Suicide, is no laughing matter. Especially when it involves five sisters committing it in a course of a single year. Their suicide begged the question: Why? Why commit suicide? Most importantly, why all five? These questions cycle through four boys, who grew up in the same neighborhood, overlooking the same incident twenty five years ago. It all started with the death of their youngest sister, then a forbidden romance. Sooner than later, one girl violates the curfew, and all of a sudden, consequences start coming, and boy are they drastic.
A book about suicide can grab your attention. The originality of this book, the genius of this book, is what makes you grab the very edge of your seat with its graphic and true depictions of suicide. Eugenides doesn't make suicide just another myth, this is a wake up call. The book is gritty and realistic, not littered with cliches and dramatic soap opera-like plot points. Instead of telling you what happens, it asks you the question, trying to make you the reader figure that question out.
One of the best characters in this book are the sister's themselves. Eugenides' doesn't write them as imaginative characters in the boy's mind, but literal real flesh and blood literal characters.These girls have flaws and the best part is when the boys realize it. The most daring, Lux for example, is sexual and acts like the female version of a womanizer, while Cecillia, the youngest and the first to go is a misfit. What helps create that sense of imperfectness is the writing. The sheer poetry and brilliance comes off Eugenides' writing, which trigger vivid images with its striking, beautiful language. This factor is one of the best in the novel, and sometimes when I felt the pace too slow for my taste, the reason why I continue reading is because of the writing.
The one critique I have of this novel is that it's painfully slow at times and it wasn't abnormal that my mind was shouting GET TO THE POINT! Alright, the youngest died. It's sad. We don't need an endless account of her parents getting ready for her funeral. We don't need an endless scene about discussions of suicide. In the end I didn't mind really, you just have to just realize that the book isn't set up like a normal fiction. It reads like a memoir, and if you respect that, I don't see why anyone would have a problem with it.
I hesitated on giving it a CHECK IT OUT just because of the pace. But the writing is so beautiful and the characters are so delightful, and it's just so poignant, that I'm going to have to say READ IT. It's heartbreaking, it will make you think, it will challenge you. But beware readers who get irritated by slow paced books: This book is not for you. It will only be annoying as hell. As for the others, it's an important classic in the making.
Last sentence (just for the proof):
"It didn't matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn't heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together. "