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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Review: The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

Book Type: Fiction, family drama, civil rights law

Predictability Factor: Not really

Cover Art: Lots of sky and a bit of coastal town. *yawn*

Bed/Bride/Bludgeon: Geeze.  Can I just answer 'none'? Like, really guys.  It's that bad. Ugh,

Character Score: Negative 70 Mr. Micawbers

What's the Story?: Three siblings return to their small Maine hometown to deal with a family crisis, each person facing their own demons and potential destruction.

X-Factor: None.  I thought the fact that it took place in Maine would be awesome, but nope.

Predictability Factor: There wasn't one.  That is about the only good thing I can say for this book.  Period.

Cover Art: Snoozefest.  Cover looks bland, just like the contents.

Bed/Bride/Bludgeon: Again, I say 'ugh.'

Character Score: Blech.  The author did a terrible job with the sort of omniscient writing style she used.  You got inside some of the characters heads, but only for really basic "no sh*t" type of thoughts that were also shown in the characters actions.  And it gave you details on characters you didn't really care about (and did NOTHING for the plot) but left more important things out for other characters.  Gross.  Bad.  Lame.

What's the Story?: The Burgess boys are famous in the small Maine town of Shirley Falls.  Bob, the youngest, for causing an accident which took the life of their father when he was very young.  Jim became a hot-shot defense attorney and got a famous singer out of a murder charge.  Both brothers escaped Maine and fled to New York City almost as soon as possible.  They each built their separate lives around a career in law and married but twenty-some years down the line, Bob is divorced and Jim is living a boring existence getting white collar criminals out of trouble.  When their nephew Zach, son of their sister Susan, commits what is essentially a hate crime, the Burgess boys return to Shirley Falls to try and make sense of the situation.  A big part of this crime involves the growing number of Somali refugees who have been moving into Maine in hopes of finding a safe place.  Shirley Falls is no exception and the town is filled with people who seem very strange, almost rude to the folk of this small Maine town.  After the brothers arrive, they try to calm their sister, bolster their nephew and make things easier for everyone legally.  Just when they think things are taken care of, federal charges are involved and everything dissolves all over again.

I was excited to get my hands on an advanced copy of this book.  I figured, famous author (Olive Kitteridge), takes place in Maine, family drama-sold.  But I was wrong.  VERY wrong.  I thought this book was going to be a lot more exciting or dramatic than it was.  Maybe that was what the author intended.  That life is just life, not TV and things can just sort of trail off and end or get muddled in the next thing.  This was boring.  So very boring.  How can a book about someone who killed their father or civil rights be so BORING???? I'll admit, I've never read any of Strout's other books.  But now, there is no way I would.  Do yourself a favor and go get a Stephen King novel if you want to read about Maine.  But if you still really want to read this book, it is available at bookstores everywhere on March 26th.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

In more positive book news: I finally got to listen to the audio version of How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (my deepest apologies to any of you who now have that terrible Fray song in your head).  It was great.  AND I now have time to read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  I've wanted to read this for well over a year now but never really had the right time to read and appreciate it.  That time is now.  And I am so psyched! WWII historical fiction, spies- count me in!


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