The Burgess Boys

The Burgess Boys

by Elizabeth Strout
3.4 122


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The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout


The Washington Post • NPR • Good Housekeeping

Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout’s “magnificent gift for humanizing characters.” Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature.
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.

Praise for The Burgess Boys

“What truly makes Strout exceptional . . . is the perfect balance she achieves between the tides of story and depths of feeling.”Chicago Tribune

“Strout’s prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity.”The New Yorker
“Elizabeth Strout’s first two books, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle, were highly thought of, and her third, Olive Kitteridge, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. But The Burgess Boys, her most recent novel, is her best yet.”The Boston Globe
“A portrait of an American community in turmoil that’s as ambitious as Philip Roth’s American Pastoral but more intimate in tone.”Time
“[Strout’s] extraordinary narrative gifts are evident again. . . . At times [The Burgess Boys is] almost effortlessly fluid, with superbly rendered dialogue, sudden and unexpected bolts of humor and . . . startling riffs of gripping emotion.”—Associated Press
“[Strout] is at her masterful best when conjuring the two Burgess boys. . . . Scenes between them ring so true.”San Francisco Chronicle
“No one should be surprised by the poignancy and emotional vigor of Elizabeth Strout’s new novel. But the broad social and political range of The Burgess Boys shows just how impressively this extraordinary writer continues to develop.”The Washington Post

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400067688
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/26/2013
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 740,778
Product dimensions: 6.64(w) x 9.34(h) x 1.22(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.


Brooklyn, New York

Date of Birth:

January 6, 1956

Place of Birth:

Portland, Maine


B.A., Bates College, 1977; J.D., Syracuse College of Law, 1982

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The Burgess Boys: A Novel 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 122 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't usually leave recommendations, but I decided this book needed to be talked about. I read Olive Ketteridge previously and knew this would also be a wonderful book. I love a good story with strong characters and this has both. There are no wild twists or torns, no sex, and no intrigue - just good story telling with a message. If you hunger for a good story, this is it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As soon as I saw that Elizabeth Stroud had a new book coming out I pre-ordered The Burgess Boys! I was hooked on the author after reading Olive Kitteridge which I loved. This book is ultimately a story of a family's entertwined lives and how each member fits into the family dynamic while dealing with a crisis. I enjoy reading Ms. Stroud's style of writing, it keeps me turning the pages. Some may find the interaction between the family members uncomfortable to read at times but it is true to the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a dreary read. ...a dysfunctional family story-and mostly unlikable characters. Olive Kitteridge was a favorite! too bad this one didn't measure up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Somewhat interesting family dynamics but moved too slowly and was at times boring. Story line seemed interesting but fell flat of my xpectations.
AlexandriaNY More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Strout - The Burgess Boys As in her Pulitzer winning novel Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys is populated by flawed characters living in an imperfect world where grace comes from unexpected sources.  One should not assume that her writing is in anyway formulaic however as both books are exceptionally well written and reveal insights that have this reader at least questioning past, present, and future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After having read and loved Olive Kitteridge, I was anxious to read the next novel from Elizabeth Strout. I was not disappointed. This novel examines the emotional baggage many of us bring to adulthood and how it often taints every relationship we have. Jim and Bob Burgess are brothers with a painful past, and while Susan is Bob's twin, the two are not very close. Jim and Bob could also not be more different and Jim's demeaning hostility toward his brother is often painful to read. Susan's son, Zach, commits an act that turns the family upside down and the siblings must work together to protect Zach from the ensuing legal and political ramifications. Taking place in both New York and Maine, Strout deals empathetically with the issue of immigrants/refugees and their struggles to assimilate into a culture so radically different from their own. This is a timely, complex story about family, parenting, siblings, childhood, and American society. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it, Also love Too Crazy To Live Too Beautiful To Die def recommend great read
camilledimaio More than 1 year ago
In musical theater, it is widely known that an actor will have a particular strength towards acting, singing, or dancing. The “Triple Threat“, or one who is exceptional on all of those, is a rare find. I have always thought that authors fall in to similar characters. There are those who excel at character development, those who incite nail-biting with their strong plots, and those who create an amazing sense of place or time. Personally, I am most captivated by a good plot, and perhaps my fingernails are proof. I can make great assumptions about a character and forgive stereotypes, and a setting with endless descriptions can make me snooze. A recent exception for me, however, was “The Burgess Boys”, by Elizabeth Strout. Set in small-town Maine, “The Burgess Boys” follows a family’s struggle as a teenaged nephew pulls a prank that engenders racial tensions and protests across the nation. One uncle, a high-profile lawyer arranges for his defense, while trying to hold on to his marriage. The other uncle, a Legal Aid attorney quietly keeps the boy’s mother from falling apart, while wrestling with a divorce that still unsettles him years later. The plot is strong, although not a page-turner, but it is the characters that pop off of the page and grab on to you. Nothing is glossy, and nothing is far-fetched. There are real hurts, joys, challenges and sacrifices. Elizabeth Strout writes as if she has pulled back the curtain on a gut-wrenching drama and is letting you take a peek. However, she wisely refrains from doing anything that is over-the-top. “The Burgess Boys” was a departure for me, but one which I am thankful I took.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her writing is masterful, with compelling characters who somehow manage tounveil their true selves in mid-life Love her writing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this wonderful book for a book club discussion. There are so many interesting characters and story lines that our discussion took many paths. I would definitely read other books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this to be an interesting story of an imperfect family as they find themselves dealing with a criminal act of the nephew. As the family history unravels, it is clear that the characters have all contributed to make the family very dysfunctional. However, in the end, the more successful brother, not suprisingly, was less able to cope with his failings than his other siblings who had lived most of their lives feeling inferior. I really liked the book, but felt the ending was a bit abrupt. It did make me continue to wonder how the characters would proceed in life. So sometimes an unknown ending is what makes us ponder about the characters longer.
Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
Another great book by Elizabeth Strout. I didn't want to put it down! Iwas very tired at work for a few days staying up to late reading it. I loved this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading "Olive Kitteridge I couldn't wait to read Strout's new book and was very disappointed. As each new event happened and each new character was introduced, I knew exactly what would happen. I really do not like a story where everything gets as bad as it can then in the last paragraph, all turns out right. I would not recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book very depressing. I was disappointed. It's not what I thougfht it would be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I read it in digital format. Does anyone know if this paperback includes Author's Notes and Questions for discussion? Thanks!
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Wow oh Wow makes you think about your family in a good way, made my heart happy
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Beautiful and insightful.
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daffinito More than 1 year ago
This is the second Elizabeth Strout book I've read. After reading both, I came away with the same conclusions. I was impressed by Ms. Strout's ability to build strong characters with great depth. BUT, in both books, I found myself pushing through to force myself to finish because of the weak story line.