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The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

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My Review

The Burgess brothers find themselves in a few troubles personal, marital, and with family members. Their nephew, their sister’s son, takes up most of this story due to having himself involved in a very troubling incident.
This incident has me thinking of that Godfather movie where one man wakes up in his bed to find a head of a horse in his bed, imagine the shock and horror he felt at the grotesque and also the message the head carried.
The Burgess brothers find themselves helping their sister in defending her son in a quite serious situation that seemed to present an action of religious hate. The said boy has he own family problems as his Burgess mother is divorced, and as any divided family he is not content as he could be due to some rather ignorant advice from his father on an ethnic minority that seemed to be part of a great influx in his town he took about himself partaking in this ungodly action.
The boy was ignorant of the ramifications of this action and finds himself amidst a possible incarceration and a community uproar against religious and racial hate.
While this problem hits the Burgess’s some find they have their own marriage and love life, in past and present, to brood over or keep their grips on.
There is a few likeable characters here, Bob Burgess seems to have captured a few readers attention.
The author has done well in here tackling marriage and family, the refugees dilemma and the cultural differences of people and the problems they face in trying to get along together.
This story was a good read with well done characters, writing and content to keep you hooked with plenty of food for thought.

Excerpts.

“Bob was a tall man, fifty-one years old, and here was the thing about Bob: He was a likeable fellow. To be with Bob made people feel as if they were inside a small circle of us-ness. If Bob had known this about himself his life might have been different. But he didn’t know it, and his heart was often touched by an undefined fear. Also, he wasn’t consistent. Friends agreed that you could have a great time with him and then you’d see him again and he’d be vacant. This part Bob knew, because his former wife had told him. Pam said he went away in his head.”

“The Burgess boys, rode up the turnpike as twilight arrived. It arrived gently, the sky remaining a soft blue as the trees along either side of the unfolding pavement darkened. Then the sinking sun sent up a spread of lavender and yellow, and the horizon line seemed cracked open to give a peek at the heavens far beyond. Thin clouds became pink and stayed that way, until finally darkness emerged, almost complete. The brothers had spoken little once they pulled out of the airport in the rental car, Jim at the wheel, and for the last many minutes as the sun went down there had been silence between them.
Bob was unutterably happy. He had not expected the feeling, which intensified it. He gazed out the window at the black stretches of evergreens, the granite boulders here and there.
The landscape he had forgotten-and now remembered. The world was an old friend, and the darkness was like arms around him.”

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 25 March 2013