A few days ago I finally finished reading The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, and I was surprisingly impressed with it. At first, I didn’t think I would like it based on the narrative voice. I felt that the narrator was something I had to get used to, but overall it was an excellent read.
The story centres around the suicides of five teenage girls, named the Lisbon sisters. Throughout the novel, the narrator provides moments, and evidence, regarding the girls suicides and how they were like in their short lives. From my reading, I’m guessing that the time period the events take place are around the 1960s or 1970s. I may be wrong, but the way the narrator speaks, how they describe historical events, and how they describe people of colour, it must be close to that time period.
What I really loved about this novel was the prose. Eugenides provides such vivid and life-like imagery to the novel, making the story almost come to life. I could really imagine the Lisbon girls, and the boys that would obsess over them. There was never a moment in the novel where I was bored, or couldn’t vividly imagine the events that occurred. At first, I was a taken aback by the obsessive nature of the boy narrators. There was this ambiguous “we” amongst the narrators, never really stating who they were. The boys’s uncomfortable obsession with the girls felt creepy, and over the top at times. Although I felt like this, I think it is a good depiction of male mentality during that era. Eventually the boys grow up, and lose their obsession for the girls, at least in romantic terms. The boys’s investigation of the suicides becomes more of an investigation of the girls’s humanity that they never realized when they were younger.
The Lisbon girls were another thing I loved about this novel. Each girl had her own unique characteristics and identity. Although the girls were often spoken about as a group, neither of them were a flat or lifeless character. What Eugenides does so perfectly in this novel is giving these female characters life. Each girl has her own life separate from her sisters, making each girl incredibly interesting to read about. I was happy to see that the girls were given identities in this novel, opposed to being characters without a soul.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who loves literary fiction or who has seen the Sofia Coppola film adaptation. This novel is not for someone who is looking for a light and fluffy read. The novel requires critical thinking, and
Final rating: 5/5
Goodreads link: The Virgin Suicides