The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugendies

Someone or something put a post-it in the back of my brain to read this book, and I’m not sure why. I guess because it’s always intrigued me, five young sisters all deciding to end their lives, everyone loves a greek tradgey. You know from the title alone that it’s about youth, sexuality and the allure of suicide. I haven’t seen Sophia Coppola’s version of the film and what I have heard from my friends is a bit “meh.”

The prose is beautiful and dark. There is an eerie feeling of it being told from the past a decade or more later, with the anonymous narrator telling you from the start, “Cecilia, the youngest, ony thirteen, had gone first..” As the reader you know it ain’t gunna end pretty, but with the web of evidence of the five teenage Lisbon girls the narrator tells you, you are led into believing that there must be an explanation for it. A story.

And that is what is most intriguing about The Virgin Suicides that five very strange girls can create an ongoing sense of mystery and confusion in a small-town. The narrator, like the other neighbourhood boys are besotted with the girls. They spy on them, break into their house, go through their garbage and at one point they buy the same strawberry lipstick that Lux Lisbon wears and get one of the boys to wear it while they take it in turns to kiss “Lux.” Most of this is told with little embarrassment and is strictly evidence of trying to explain the Lisbon girls suicide. It seems natural of them to spy.

Despite its dark nature I actually found this book quite funny at times. This particular quote is about Mr Lisbon living with his teenage daughters:

“Everywhere he looked he found hairpins and fuzzy combs, and because so many females roamed the house they forgot he was male and discussed their menstruation openly in front of him. Cecilia had just gotten her period, on the same day of the month as the other girls, who were all synchronized in their lunar rhythms. Those five days of each month were the worst for Mr Lisbon, who had to dispense aspire as though feeding ducks and comfort crying jags that arose because a dog was killed on TV.”

To me it makes me chuckle because it’s so odd that the narrator has found out this information and included it. This book is a bit of a downer but it is very thoughtful about how we examine other people and what memories we have and what we can never let go of.

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