BookBrowse Reviews The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

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The Burgess Boys

by Elizabeth Strout

The Burgess Boys
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2013, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2014, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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The Burgess Boys is tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home.

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 legal aide.

The siblings' ...

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