The Virgin Suicides

posted in Books on Jan 11, 2007

Coming off of Middlesex, I pretty much knew what to expect from Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides. It would be a completely engrossing, and I would read it until my eyes bled or I would finish the novel, whichever came first. Luckily, my eyes are intact, and I have since finished another very good book that paints a portrait of a world that you could see yourself in.

The Virgin Suicides is simply about five girls who end their own lives. Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling a thing; the first page gives this information straight out. You know it’s going to happen the entire way through. The more complex view is that it’s almost not about the girls at all, but about everything that surrounds them. The novel is narrated by a neighborhood boy, who details his and his friends’ obsession with the girls. Now, as a boy myself (or man; manchild, if you will), the book relates adolescent urges and thoughts quite well. I know that growing up as a teenager there was a girl that lived in my neighborhood who was very attractive that was untouchable because she was so. That still didn’t stop myself and my friends from looking out of the corners of our eyes if she happen to drive past or come outside for any reason. Everyone had that person that lived in their neighborhood who was the center of attention without even trying to be. It’s all part of growing up. This book instantly jumps onto those pubescent goings-on when you’re too afraid to say or do anything so you just stay in the shadows. (As an aside: if anyone from my highschool is reading this and remembers where I lived and who I lived by, you probably know who I am alluding to.) I won’t delve any further into discussion about the book in case you wanted to read it (and you should). I will say this, though, that on the whole I enjoyed Middlesex better, but I would recommend this novel to anyone as well.

What else is interesting about this novel is that it has been brought to the screen in a movie that shares the same title. I, like many others, actually heard about it in movie form before book form. Unfortunately, I never found time to watch the movie, or even thought of it as a worthy candidate for my viewing pleasure. This is, of course, until I finished reading the novel. The movie, like nearly all movies taken from their written counterparts, isn’t as good overall. There are things missing, and some details my not make as much sense by seeing them for two seconds rather than reading a chapter on them. Anyone who has read the book, however, should look into the movie. It’s a pretty accurate adaptation, and follows the plot very closely, using a ton of dialogue lifted straight from the book. There were many a time when I would sit there and be able to say the lines with them because I had just read them in the book. As much as I liked the movie, I couldn’t help but think that if you haven’t read the book, it may not make such an impact, but for me I had a great time comparing and contrasting this and that along with being both impressed and saddened that they could get so much from the book into the movie but still have some things not be able to make it. So it goes with all book to movie adaptations, I suppose.

As with Middlesex, I can’t help but recommend this novel. Jeffrey Eugenides writes extremely well from any perspective (the main character in Middlesex is a hermaphrodite, who knows how that feels like besides Jamie Lee Curtis and a few others), and I look forward to reading anything else from him down the line.