The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

I didn’t fly through this book easily, as it took a bit of time for me to figure out what it was really about. But it is a very rewarding read, funny and elegaic.

I think it has been made into a film but the story is, as the title suggests, ostensibly about the suicides of five sisters in a small American town. But the real story is about the narrator and his peers, who are male and watchful. Once or twice, you doubt whether the suicides are meant to be real or imagined events. But I like that – reality is variable, depending on your perspective.

The book is about adolescence, when everyone is experimenting with their characters and beliefs. I often wonder why the experiences we have when young accumulate layers of meaning as we get older; that song, that poem, that smell, that summer spent doing dead-end jobs but having the greatest laughs….when remembered in later life, they seem somehow so much more meaningful than the expensive bungee jump or weekend in Paris that our relative wealth now provides for us.

That is what this book is about – how those memories are created.


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