The Virgin Suicides Review

Title: The Virgin Suicides
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Genre: Contemporary

Blurb: First published in 1993, The Virgin Suicides announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.


Me: A completely stunning piece of writing- such talent and a great sense of atmosphere.

Before anything, the premise of this book was what really hooked me. There's just so much potential for a gripping story with just the simple fact that five sisters commit suicide over a year. I suppose there was just as much potential to not do the story justice, yet Eugenides dealt with the plot very well. 

I really don't think this book has any particular message, or end conclusion, or grand realization. It's more just the sensation of being dunked into a hyper-saturated, technicolor world that has been so expertly crafted. In fact, even by the end of the book, when the reader has emotionally experienced every suicide, there is no solid resolution. The book just kind of dissolves into the final line. 

That being said, I think this book proved that an intricate, beginning-middle-end plot isn't necessary for great fiction. I think where this book outshines most any other literature is its prose. The writing is just unbelievable. Every line builds the ethereal, melancholy, adolescent atmosphere so seamlessly. 
Reading this book was like: 

  • A collage of images passing through a viewfinder, mostly because so much of the book was based in detailed imagery
  • Being nostalgic for a place you've never been to, and a time you've never seen
  • Looking at dead flowers 
I mean, look at these gems. 

"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."

"Their desire was silent yet magnificent, like a thousand daisies attuning their faces toward the path of the sun."

Eugendies, please never stop writing. 

It was so fascinating how such a terrible thing like suicide could be presented in almost a detached, numb way where even I felt less sad and more amazed, more pitiful. The book was written from start to finish in the plural first person, something I've never seen before for an entire piece of fiction. The speakers were grown men (former teenage boys) who had been fascinated with the Lisbon sisters in their youth. This perspective made sense with the precise eye for detail but also with the general feeling of confusion and mysticism.

In the end, there was surprisingly very little that I needed to chew on for this book. It came quite simply, and by the last page, I was just overwhelmed by a certain feeling of nostalgia, awe, and ethereality. And I suppose that's the magic of this book. 

Rating: 4 kisses!






2 comments:

  1. I really, really didn’t like this book :( I tried so hard to, but I just didn’t get it at all and I thought that the suicide portrayed was extremely harmful and problematic. I felt really uncomfortable throughout it.

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    1. I think that's totally valid! I can definitely see why, but I almost felt like the book was less about suicide itself. Like I didn't really see any message about suicide being delivered in the book, but I could see why it might be problematic.

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