Hi friends. Today, I’d share about my reading experience with this book called “The Virgin Suicides” by Jeffrey Eugenides. Eugenides is also the author of acclaimed novel Middlesex.
For almost a year my desire to stick with any book dwindled while my to-read list ballooned to my horror. Piles of books grew beside my pillow with their quiet reproach. Nothing felt good or worthy enough to dive into for long. I would alternately jump from a YA bestseller, to a modern classic, to a praised fantasy book; to a couple of literary fiction but nothing seemed to get to me.
I leafed through thrillers, even reread an old favourite, checked out non-fiction and poetry books but I was still far from being continuously absorbed in a story. We know that even the most avid of readers go through these bouts. But that fact didn’t help. I was so bummed. In my head I hear the words: “Book flirt.” Oh yeah I was book flirting too much.
One day while commuting to work, I opened The Virgin Suicides and decided to finally get past the first paragraph. The book opens with a straightforward account of the last suicide in comparison with the first told by an unnamed narrator who was one of the guys obsessed with the Lisbon sisters.
Teenage girls Mary, Cecilia, Bonnie, Lux and Therese Lisbon – all committed suicide in different methods.
The narrator then seamlessly takes the reader to the dark and humorous workings of adolescent life, their suburban neighbourhood, the painfully funny but realistic characters and high school dramas, in conjunction with the inner turmoil in the Lisbon household.
He let us on their schemes and voyeuristic indulgences, the tensions and anticipation of males in the grips of infatuation. One of the first words that came up to me was visceral.
I could smell the girls’ Jasmine soap, the gloom in the aftermath of the first suicide, felt the boys’ wonder and ache as they scrutinize Cecilia’s diary; I was filled with excitement as Trip –the high school heartthrob pursued Lux. I was laughing out loud and then grieving with them. And the thing is I did not even like any of the sisters.
Eugenides painted a time that would very soon end but can’t not be lived. Sheesh High school. I applaud him for having written a volume so ridiculous and yet so heart breaking. Heart breaking and yet so grounded. It didn’t attempt to idealize nor romanticize its themes (suicide, young love, and rebellion) yet one is moved if not provoked to ruminate, which I dare say is not easy to achieve given the premise.
It is a delicious read. There were parts where I just had to pause just because it was too much. (But maybe it’s just me, oh)
Hey, have you ever tried
Really reaching out for the other side
I may be climbing on rainbows
But baby, here goes
Dreams, they're for those who sleep
Life is for us to keep
And if you're wondering what this song is leading to
I want to make it with you
I’ll end this with Bread. :)