The Virgin Suicides

by Jeffrey Eugenides

"In the end, the tortures tearing the Lisbon girls pointed to a simple reasoned refusal to accept the world as it was handed down to them, so full of flaws."

The Virgin Suicides is an unforgettable, vivid account of five sisters and their untimely demises.  This novel tells the story of five beautiful and ethereal sisters, from the point of view of their neighbours - a group of boys who worships them from a far.  The boys collect items that the girls have left behind in class, they cling to fragments of conversations they have with the girls, and revel in seeing the girls from their tree house perch.

The Lisbon sisters - Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary and Therese - are different from the other girls in their high school. Their parents won't let them go out with boys.  They gather together at lunch and break, and only talk to each other.  They wear dresses made by their mother.  No boys are allowed into their house. The downward spiral of these girls lives begins when the youngest, Cecilia, attempts and later succeeds in her suicide. They girls become even more removed from the world.  Lux reacts with promiscuity.  Then, the girls seem to get better.  They grieve together and move forward.  Or so the neighbourhood boys seem to think.

The title of the book leaves nothing to the imagination.  The first line even makes reference to the "morning the last Lisbon sister took her turn at suicide."  I was still as shocked as the boys, who were constantly watching, when the suicides took place. The point of view is spectacular in this novel.  Everything is told from the point of view of the across-the-street neighbours of the Lisbon family, after the final suicide has taken place.  The boys loved these girls from afar, but never really knew them.  So, the reader only knows that which they know.  The boys make reference to photographs and "artifacts" which the reader never gets to see.  We get to revere the sisters like the boys do, and get to speculate as to what went on in their troubled minds.

A haunting and memorable read.  Recommended for those of you who miss having a required reading list, and aren't interested in a light beach read for summer.

♥ Meg xoxo

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