Liz and Gianna are two of a dying breed--traveling sales reps for book publishers--who sell books in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and the Deep South. Since we're constantly on the road hawking books, we must find ways to amuse ourselves. So here we've decided to share our anecdotes, adventures, favorite books, and efforts in making the world (or at least these few states) a more literate place to inhabit.
What Elizabeth Strout does well is fill her books with fully
realized, interesting, yet flawed characters. That’s my nice way of saying she
writes one hell of an unlikable unsympathetic character. Just as Olive Kitteridge remains so vivid
several years after first reading it, The
Burgess Boys will resonate as well.
The Burgess family meets tragedy early in life when Bobby,
just a toddler playing in the front seat of the family car, accidently backs
over and kills his father. Yeah, from that point on you’re going to be the odd
man out. But Bobby goes to law school just as his older brother Jim does,
although Bobby will never excel the way Jim has in life, and Jim reminds him of
that fact often. While the brothers move to New York, their sister Susan stays
behind in Maine, marries, has a son, and divorces. Their lives rattle on.
The Burgess Boys
Jim becomes somewhat of a celebrity lawyer with political
aspirations, Jim’s career and marriage have not really panned out, and Susan
finds that her little hometown is being overrun by “Somalian” refugees, whom
she has no real understanding or sympathy for. It annoys her that they don’t
try to fit in more. It is no real surprise when her now teenage son Zach throws
a pig’s head through the window of a mosque during a Ramadan prayer service.
The Burgess family is pretty confident that this crime,
which they consider to be a joke gone bad, a misdemeanor at best, will blow
over. It isn’t until the prosecutor wants to charge Zach with a hate crime that
they realize the severity of what’s happening, and then…Zach disappears.
The Burgess Boys
will certainly be compared to Olive
Kitteridge, and that’s understandable to some extent, but they really are
two drastically different books, each of which stands on its own.