Before the trash collected itself from the curb, before the fence was remove, before the house was labeled as haunted, before the parents got divorce, before the suicides happened, the Lisbon family was living peacefully in Michigan with their 5 daughters: Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary and Therese.
Told nearly twenty years later after “there were no more daughters to save”, the story was narrated by a collective first-person observer from a group of middle-age men addicted to the Lisbon girls. The tragedy started when Cecilia cut herself on the wrist, a near-death experience. As if that was just a game, she tried it again but this time jumped off from her window and was impaled against the fence: a sure kill. The remaining girls suffered from “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”, and peer pressure. As the narrator said, “Inside their house they were prisoners; outside, lepers.”
The narrator(s) were once the boys, from the same town the girls stayed, who kept eyeing the girls but never got close until the last part of the book. The story is molded out of the lovely and guilty memories, first-hand stories, personal possessions from the girls. As the they narrated, they left a trail on how they treasured the girls. The book not only told the girls’ story but also how it affected the boys’ entire life.
Jeffrey Eugenides did a good job in describing the event but the minuscule or even the major details, I feel, is overdone. I feel like he is showing off on how well he knows the story. Sometimes or often, the story, as he mentions all the people involved with their names, job description, what did they did over the summer, etc., is purely nonsensical. These things don’t often come thrice or even twice, so what’s the point of elaboration? If the book had a credit roll, it will surely mount to a chapter.
At the point of view of these men/boys, I couldn’t see what was what/why/how in the story since the point of view limits the information. The reason why did the girls committed suicide, how exactly strict their mother is, how they reacted for the grief, what they felt from the neighbors’ nagging concern was left for a reader to ponder. As the narrator(s) confessed, “We’d like to tell you with authority what it was like inside the Lisbon house, or what the girls felt being imprisoned in it. Sometimes, drained by this investigation, we long for some shred of evidence, some Rosetta stone that would explain the girls at last”.
The only exciting part, and perhaps the only part I enjoyed, was when the narrator(s) were getting in touch with the girls. That was when I see the connection but be wary it was also as disappointing as the book itself, for it stops immediately.
I agree of what Simone Smith said from the hubpages: “One does not read The Virgin Suicides to find out what happens (that is pretty apparent) but rather to experience something rich and vivid.” But I’m afraid to say that I didn’t experience the feeling what the story is trying to give. Not because I’m not a middle-age men or didn’t saw a suicide event nearby but because of the details, which was overdone, is littered all over the story that it obscures and defeats the purpose. I can’t see why was this book turned to the a movie except the topic it offers. Suicides were getting trendy in those days.
PS: If you still want to read this and have the option for a book or an audiobook. Don’t choose the latter, the voice will rob your energy.