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I wish I could read about Olive again for the first time and I am not sure there will ever be a book like that one,but Elizabeth Strout is a great storyteller and the Burgess Boys is another great example of her artistry. She has an affectionate way of drawing her characters that gives you an understanding and appreciation for them that is slowly woven into the story line. Se is a master and I was sorry when this story ended but look forward to her expertise in whatever she sets out to do in the future.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
With apologies to Shakespeare, "some men are born sad and some men have sadness thrust upon them." Bob Burgess is one of the latter. Years ago, a freak car accident with toddler Bob in the front seat claimed the life of Bob's father. Modern psychology sometimes distinguishes guilt from shame this way: Guilt says, "What I did was bad " and Shame says "Who I am is bad." Bob could be the poster child for what happens when blame hardens into shame which results in a life that never really gets off the ground. Nevertheless, it is Bob who is the heart and soul of "The Burgess Boys." He lives his blighted life with humility, intelligence, and humor while struggling to keep his old personal demons from affecting his current relationships. Big brother Jim is a successful go getter who works hard, plays hard, and when he wants your opinion, he'll give it to you. Jim Burgess has achieved worldly success but is not the guy you trust to have your back. Just when you mentally roll your eyes convinced the author's description of Jim is veering into an obnoxious caricature, the origins of his larger-than-life personality begin to emerge. Jim begins to make sense, and this adds to our understanding of his siblings as well. Layers are peeled away as each character responds to unexpected events, and each other.
I found this book captivating and extremely well written. The story describes what happens to the Burgess family when an impulsive, foolish act becomes a catalyst for life changes and truth telling. The characters are fantastic - very human in the best sense of the word: life bats them about, but they find enough courage and tenacity to rise above worn grooves of resignation. Even if the players in the story aren't the most likable at times, they each are worth getting to know. Strout's plot is compelling and raises complex moral questions that have no easy answers. I'm still pondering some points a day after finishing the book. Finally, narrator Cassandra Campbell is perfection. She narrates "The Burgess Boys" with warmth, intelligence and a wicked Maine accent. Ayuh.
37 of 40 people found this review helpful
After a tragic childhood accident, the Burgess children’s lives and personalities have all been deeply affected; not just in the ways in which their lives have turned out, but particularly in the way they respond to and treat each other. This has a knock-on effect on the sister Susan’s son, Zach and his actions threaten to destroy not only his own life but race-relations in their local community.
Elizabeth Strout has a rare talent for portraying her characters, not only as 3 dimensional, but as whole, totally believable people. As in real life, nobody is totally good (though Bob comes close to that description) or bad.
A narrator can make or break a book. Cassandra Campbell enhances this audiobook by bringing to life each character with its own instantly recognisable voice.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I was disappointed with this book. The story sounded interesting - 3 siblings getting together to come to terms with the death of their father in their childhood. The other theme the book tackles is the relationship between the people in a small town and Somali immigrants. Both of these were very clumsily dealt with as the characters were very shallowly drawn and the plot was so obvious you could have guessed most of it.
I'd say it's fine for a very easy listen but completely forgettable.