Rating – 5 stars
I had read and heard a lot of praise for The Virgin Suicides but in no way was I prepared for what was to come when I finally picked it up.
Dealing with the horrific issue of suicide pact, Jeffrey Eugenides writes about the lives of five teenaged sisters of the Lisbon family – Cecilia, Bonnie, Mary,Therese and Lux.Daughters of a father who is a teacher and a mother who is a homemaker, they appear to be like other ordinary teenagers. But they make an impact on a quiet suburban neighborhood which leaves an impression on the lives of those around them along with so many questions and regrets.
Narrated from the point of views of various characters, whose voyeuristic ways keep a track of the sisters lives on a daily basis, the book showcases how people can sometimes look but not ‘SEE’ what’s before their eyes.
The boys, who act as narrators throughout the book recall how they would see girls in a sexual light, would communicate with them using songs and torch lights and in doing so paints a horrific picture of mute spectators who could have averted the gruesome event if only they had looked beyond the obvious. Suffocated by the dictatorial rules and upbringing of their strict mother and ignored by their uncaring father, the girls in the ultimate act of rebellion commit the mass suicides.
The use of ‘we’ and ‘us’ throughout the book as the boys describe the events that ultimately end up with the death of the girls is so chillingly creepy that reading the narrative I got goosebumps. And the ultimate blow comes when the reader realizes the narrators are now middle-aged men with sagging bellies and balding heads, looking back with regret and remorse which they cannot openly admit in regards to the death of the sisters.
This was the first time I picked up a work by Mr.Eugenides and was simply blown away. Death itself is a depressing thing and to write about it in a way which engages the reader is no small feat, but when the said death happens to be via a suicide pact it is a testament to the talent of the author that the reader cannot put it down until the last page of the book has been read and can still be left wanting for more.