Set in 1970s
The book is narrated by one of the group of horny young boys who live on the same street as the
Readers looking for insights about depression and suicide will be disappointed by The Virgin Suicides. Eugenides has chosen instead to emphasize how something of this magnitude can happen without anyone recognizing it, or perhaps, even having the will to stop it before it is too late. Even the young men so obsessed with their every activity were unable to see what was coming. Those closest to the girls, their parents, were so caught up in the grief of having lost their youngest daughter already that they could not stop her sisters from following her example. By limiting the reader to only the facts known to the book’s other characters, Eugenides forces one to speculate about what must have happened to cause the suicides in much the same way that others in the story speculate. The sad truth is that it is often impossible to understand what drives another person to take his own life.
I do wish that Eugenides had given the sisters more distinctive personalities. As it was, only Cecilia, the first to take her life, and Lux, the family risk taker, stand out at all. The other three girls are so interchangeable that even their classmates sometimes had a problem telling them apart. I realize that this “sameness” may have contributed to their final choices but, as a reader, I would have enjoyed knowing more about the girls before they were gone forever. That must be exactly how the neighbor boys felt.
Rated at: 3.5