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Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Burgess Boys

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.
With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art. (from Amazon)

This is the basic review on Amazon and is similar to all of the other reviews posted by various sources.  Based on the reviews you would expect this to be a great book, right?  Wrong! My first mistake was in not realizing why the author seemed so familiar.  I finally realized that I had read Strout's last book, Olive Kitteridge when it first came out a few years ago based on positive reviews and the fact that it won the Pulitzer.  At that time I was seriously disappointed and not at all enamored by Strout's writing style.  I didn't purposely give her a second chance on this book, but now that I have, there won't be a third.  So what made it so bad?  Primarily, it was just boring.  The story jumped between characters and I think was trying to present some type of intense character study but for me it didn't work at all.  Basically, I just didn't care about anyone in the book or what happened to them.  There were moments of high emotion where I really should have been impacted, but it really didn't matter to me what happened to any of the characters.  That to me is the kiss of death in a book.  

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