The Burgess Boys: A Novel

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The Burgess Boys
352 pages; Random House Trade Paperbacks
Even as middle-aged lawyers who long ago escaped their hometown for New York City, Bob and Jim Burgess still stagger under the guilt of a freak accident that killed their father when they were children. In Elizabeth Strout's The Burgess Boys, a crisis with their nephew compels them to return to Shirley Falls, Maine, and revisit the fatal tragedy. As in her Pulitzer Price-winning Olive Kitteridge, Strout deftly exposes the tensions that fester among families. But she also takes a broader view, probing cultural dividesfrom the mutual distrust of locals and Somali refugees who've settled in Shirley Falls to the resentment and disdain underlying relationships between those who grew up poor and privileged Americans, such as Jim's heiress wife, Helen, who has observed that the Burgess family is "hillbilly, rube trash." Illustrating the power of roots, Strout assures us we can go home againtough we may not want to.
— Karen Holt