The Burgess Boys
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Includes Elizabeth Strout’s never-before-published essay about the origins of The Burgess Boys
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • NPR • Good Housekeeping
Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout’s “magnificent gift for humanizing characters.” Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature.
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 readers long after they turn the final page. 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.
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“What truly makes Strout exceptional . . . is the perfect balance she achieves between the tides of story and depths of feeling.”—Chicago Tribune
“Strout’s prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity.”—The New Yorker
“Elizabeth Strout’s first two books, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle, were highly thought of, and her third, Olive Kitteridge, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. But The Burgess Boys, her most recent novel, is her best yet.”—The Boston Globe
“A portrait of an American community in turmoil that’s as ambitious as Philip Roth’s American Pastoral but more intimate in tone.”—Time
“[Strout’s] extraordinary narrative gifts are evident again. . . . At times [The Burgess Boys is] almost effortlessly fluid, with superbly rendered dialogue, sudden and unexpected bolts of humor and . . . startling riffs of gripping emotion.”—Associated Press
“[Strout] is at her masterful best when conjuring the two Burgess boys. . . . Scenes between them ring so true.”—San Francisco Chronicle
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
The Burgess Boys
This is a wonderful story, gently told. I could see my family in the characters. It has a lot of human sadness but somehow ends on an uplifting note
As a Mainer....
My only complaint is the persistent anti-Maine sentiment. I know some will say the exact opposite because of the outcome, but...I'm an ivy-League educated successful Mainer who didn't grow up here but was annoyed by the stereotypes. We are not all in the cold and dark. Our climate is very much like NY and Boston. There are many who embrace our beautiful world and are not all sad and desperate like those in Shirley Falls. I would like to add that as much as Helen may not be likable, this Mainer appreciates her love for her husband and children and her position on being duped. I have full faith that she and Jim reunited. Xxoo
I enjoyed this book. The story is told around an event that really happened in Maine in 2006 when a pig's head was rolled into a Somali Mosque during Ramadan. The characters all have their own dysfunction but are quite believable. I found this story interesting in that it must be so difficult for some people to acclimate to the U.S. only because they can no longer live in their own country for fear of death. It is interesting when one of the characters from Maine goes to NY for the first time in her life and finds it so foreign and difficult to get around. She realizes it must be how the Somalis feel about living in the U.S.