A pivotal event that binds The Burgess Boys
together is precipitated by Zachary Olson, a brooding white teenager in the fictional town of Shirley Falls, Maine. Zach throws the frozen head of a pig into a mosque during Ramadan prayers where new Somali immigrants to the town are worshipping. Neither the quiet Zach nor his mother, Susan, is entirely sure what made the boy come unhinged and commit this hate crime.
For her part, Susan is the only one of the three Burgess children who has remained in Shirley Falls, the town in which she and her siblings, brothers Jim and Bob, grew up. The brothers have moved to New York City. Jim, the oldest, is an extremely successful lawyer in Manhattan, having made his name successfully defending a clearly guilty celebrity. Bob, Susan's twin, has also studied law but he doesn't possess Jim's fire and works in the city as a...
Beyond the Book
Years ago, when we were vacationing in Maine, we drove through the city of Portland and I spotted a lady holding a child by the hand. She was dressed in an extremely colorful hijaab and that riot of color really stood out in my mind I was reminded of that flash of color after I put down The Burgess Boys
The civil war that wracked Somalia for much of the early '90s meant an increasing number of refugees fleeing the country to distant places, including the United States. While large urban areas such as Atlanta attracted the first wave of Somalis, in...