The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, Book Review, Characters & Summary

The Virgin Suicides

Introduction

Released in 1993, The Virgin Suicides is Jeffrey Eugenides’ debut novel. The story revolves around five sisters of the Lisbon family in the 1970s in Michigan’s Grosse Pointe.

Furthermore, the book is also adapted to a movie, released in 1999, with multiple well-known stars, including Kirsten Dunst.

About The Author

Born on the 8th of March, 1960, Jeffrey Kent Eugenides is a talented short story writer and novelist. Besides The Virgin Suicides, his other novels are The Marriage Plot and Middlesex.

Jeffrey takes Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, and some other well-known people as his inspiration. He has won multiple awards for his literary creations, including Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Whiting Awards, and others.

Speaking about his personal life, he has a daughter Georgia Eugenides from his marriage to Karen Yamauchi.

Characters

There are multiple characters in The Virgin Suicides. Cecilia Lisbon, the 12-year-old and the youngest, is shy and somewhat strange, even for her sisters. Lux Lisbon is the second youngest and the most rebellious among all the Lisbon sisters.

Mary Lisbon mostly spends time in front of a mirror and is the second oldest sister. Bonnie Lisbon is the middle sister who is quiet, pious, and also obedient, Among them, Therese Lisbon is the oldest one who loves reading books and is an intellectual.

Mr. Lisbon & Mrs. Lisbon are the parents of the girls. Among the duo, Mrs. Lisbon is forceful and strict, and Mr. Lisbon feels emasculated by them.
Some Characters besides the Lisbon family members are the neighborhood boys, Peter Sissen, Chase Buell, Paul Baldino, Joe Hill Conley, Kevin Head, Parkie Denton, Tom Faheem, Tim Winer, and others.

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Themes

The author has portrayed and touched multiple themes in this book, including isolation, religion, first love, infatuation with happiness, and others.

In the story, isolation becomes the significant reason behind the death of the Lisbon girls. Since Mrs. Lisbon is a religious person, she restricts her daughters from multiple things, including smoking, drinking alcohol, and also communicating with boys.

Later on, the novel also shows the first love between Trip and Lux, which later on doesn’t go as planned. Their characters also suggest the profound irony of American happiness, and their attempt to achieve it proves fatal and false.

Summary/Synopsis Of The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides is a story of the 5 Lisbon sisters. A gang of neighborhood boys tells the tale in the form of memory. Aforementioned, Mrs. Lisbon is a rigidly religious homemaker.

The Lisbon family gets a huge shock when Cecilia, their youngest, slashes her wrist while bathing. Well, the 13-year-old is rescued only for her to jump off her house’s window later on and die after impaling on their fence’s spikes. All of the Lisbon sisters attend the school after it resumes acting as if nothing had happened. The school heartthrob Trip Fontaine shows an attraction toward Lux. Later, when there’s a group date, Trip persuades Lux to have coitus with him on the football pitch after asking her to leave the dance.

When Trip is done, he feels uninterested and leaves Lux on the pitch all alone, which causes her to not reach home in time and miss her curfew. Sadly, Mrs. Lisbon enrages after that, and the sisters are taken out of the school.

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After being isolated fully from the outside world, the boys communicate only by playing records over the phones with the girls. The sisters send the boys a note asking them to visit them at their house one night. Well, the lads dream about running away with the girls without knowing that the Lisbon sisters are killing themselves silently.

While searching for the girls, the boys find Bonnie’s body hung from the rafters. Seeing such a gruesome scene, they all run away. Grievously, all of the dead bodies of the Lisbon sisters are discovered by the authorities in the morning.

Strength and Weakness

The novel connects the characters of the book and the users/readers. It uses the first-person plural for its perspective. Furthermore, the story also gives multiple messages and details about parents’ relationships with their teenage children.

Despite having five daughters in the family, the book’s main attention is towards Lux only and has explained her behavior, beauty, and love life, ignoring the rest. Since the whole tale is told by the neighbor boys in the form of memory and flashbacks, the readers might get disorientated about a certain time.

My Take on The Book

Even if there are some weaknesses in the book, the strengths and multiple themes cover it up pretty nicely. With a 3.8/5 rating from Goodreads, the 249 pages long book is an exciting and enthralling approach showing what may happen if parents and their children’s relationship isn’t that well.

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