Book Review: The Virgin Suicides

Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Genre: Fiction
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)

I was reading another book when this book was mentioned and I realized that I’ve had this book for a couple of years already but never really bothered to read it. I don’t even know why I bought it. Probably because I saw Kirsten Dunst on the cover. I can be pretty impulsive when it comes to buying books. Mehehe. Anyway, now that I have finally read it, all I can say is:

What was that?

(Di ko sya naintindihan mga bes! Haha!)

Okay. Maybe that’s not all that I can say but that’s a mere summary of what I felt upon finishing the book. I was gripped with the knowledge that I did not fully comprehend the book as a whole and that there’s more to it than what I was able to grasp.

The writing was beautiful and seamless. You would not even notice the transitions because they all happened fluidly. A lot of metaphors were also thrown here and there and Eugenides used really beautiful words which made the narrative even more lyrical. But reading it was actually pretty underwhelming considering all the praises I read about it. I mean, there were atleast four pages dedicated for all the accolades towards the book. How it was haunting! Piercing! Arresting! Brilliant! Rhapsodic! Compelling! With all those adjectives, who would not expect so much from it?

I finished one thirds of the book when I had this thought: this is weird. I kind of get it when one of the praises on it said that it was “a rare first novel”. It really is rare, not only for a first novel, but as a story alone. It was weird and totally confusing. An IG-slash-artist friend of mine messaged when she saw this book on my story and told me that even she did not really understand the book. She thinks though that maybe given another decade she would be able to understand it. And weirdly I feel the same way.

It was a story about the five Lisbon sisters who in a span of one year all decided to kill themselves.

Okay, let that sink in. Five sisters, all young adolescent girls, decided to kill themselves. Quite heavy, right? From the first line of the book, that information was already given so don’t worry because that was not really much of a spoiler. It was the inevitable end for the girls. But the story would revolve about finding the answers as to why these five girls would want to kill themselves.

It has that kind of feeling that it is pulling you into the story but also that feeling that you are just watching by the sidelines. It sucks you in but you know that you are just watching the story unfold through the narrator’s eyes. There’s a detached feeling while reading it. I guess it is because of the way it was narrated. The story was from the standpoint of an outsider, one of the neighborhood boys, who were all fascinated with the girls. The then teenage boys who are now all adults still tried figuring out what caused the suicides. From the photos, trinkets, letters and stories they had collected they tried to put together the pieces of the puzzle as to understand why the girls chose to end their lives.

A lot of plausible explanations were presented but they were either just casually dismissed or not pondered upon further more.

The book ended with no definite answer. The girls remained mysteries until the very end. But I guess that was the whole point of the book, that no matter how much you try to understand there are just things that are just beyond comprehension.

I’m sure that this book will linger with me for a while. It was indeed haunting. The descriptions in the book were so vivid and the story itself was troubling. But I have to say that I don’t find the story beautiful as some people claim it to be. It was nothing but a tragic mystery to me.

19 thoughts on “Book Review: The Virgin Suicides”

      1. The point, as in the overarching message? Shet, gusto mo ba ng sagot na pang-English essay? Haha.
        There’s multiple ways of looking at it, e. It could be about death vis-à-vis loss of innocence, with suicide as a “symbol of the innocence lost as adolescents are initiated into the sad complexities of grown-up life.” (https://tinyurl.com/ycdoe78p)
        It could also be an exploration of the dynamics of a dysfunctional family. The deterioration of the Lisbon house, for example, comes in parallel with the falling apart of the Lisbon family. (https://tinyurl.com/he6yhkc)
        We can even read it as a feminist text, because it’s about a group of girls locked in a house by an overbearing mother, and the story was told from the perspective of a bunch of boys peering at them. One can argue that suicide was ultimately their way of claiming their identities and finally making a decision for themselves. Huhu.
        Sayang hindi ako well-versed sa Greek literature. I’m sure it’s a nod to Greek tragedy in some ways; the first person plural narrator (“we”) is essentially a variation of a Greek chorus. Nakabasa o nakapanood ka na ba ng Greek play? Laging may character na “Chorus” o “Koro,” ‘yung grupo ng mga tao na distant sa main events ng kwento.
        Nagandahan din ako sa language, sa pagkakasulat mismo haha. Nakatulong ba ako at all?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hmmm…

        Masakit. Bakit hindi nalang nila pinush yung pag-alis nila dun sa bahay kesa sa ginawa nila? Huhubels. Ang hirap ga. Gusto kong maintindihan yung Lisbon girls kaso lahat talaga eh observation lang ng taga-labas. Nyeam.

        Isa pa yon sa mej nabother ako. Gusto ko kasi alam ko kung sino ang narrator. Haha. Gusto ko alam ko kung kaninong thoughts yung binabasa ko. Haha. Anyway, di pa ako nakabasa/nood ng greek play. Parang weird. Haha.

        Grabe yung description nung author sa book no? Ruming-rumi ako dun sa bahay nila. Parang gusto kong pumunta dun tapos maglinis man lang. Haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Part siguro ng mystery ‘yung pagiging uncertain ng motives ng Lisbon girls? Ang ganda nga e, at least para sa akin haha. Masisira ‘yung haunting tone kung i-spoon feed lahat, tas very Pinoy teleserye lang kung mabubulgar ang mga lihim sa isang diary or zamthing, haha.

        Bihira lang din akong makabasa ng “we” narrator e, although interested naman ako sa iba’t ibang atake sa narration/POV. Bet ko ang unreliable narrators, lalo na ‘yung mga may tiwang sa ulo hahaha.

        My gahd ako rin! Gusto kong tulungan ‘yung manong na naglinis ng bahay, although feeling ko maki-creep out din ako so moral support na lang haha.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. True though. Hindi sya magiging effective kung nareveal lahat. Pero still. Haha. Ano kayang nanyari kay Cecilia para masabi niya dun sa doktor yung “obviously, doctor, you’ve never been a 13 year old girl”. Lakas ng tama saken nung eksena na yun sa book. Sori makulit. Haha.

        Pag mystery books madaming ganong klaseng narrator no. Yung mga slightly mental na narrator.

        Di ko maimagine na may bumili pa nung property na yon. Jusko. Kahit yata ipa bless ko yung bahay hindi ko titirhan. Hahaa.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Mas na-intriga ako. I think may movie nito or guni guni ko lang? Titingin ako sa book sale mamaya tapos babasahin ko! Pagusapan natin pero mukang di ko rin maiintindihan. HAHA

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Uhm. Di sya nakakatakot. Yung idea lang na hindi mo alam kung bakit nila naisipan lahat magpakamatay ang nakakatakot. Pero yung takbo ng story ay ayos lang. Di sya thriller/ suspense. Walang kaba moments. Medyo boring nga sya sa ibang part kasi nagkukuwento lang talaga yung narrator ng observation niya. Wala din gaanong dialogue.

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