First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
First published in 1993, The Virgin Suicides announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters – beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys – commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family’s fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.
And it is the weekend again! Happy Friday everyone! I hope that you ended the work week on a high note. I hope that you were all able to accomplish everything you wanted to accomplish at the start of the week. I know most of us are tired and weary after a week’s grind. As such, I hope that you spend the weekend resting and recovering. I hope you all have fun. As we enter the last third of the year, I hope that the rest of the year will be kind and gentle to everyone. I hope that your prayers have been answered and that all you worked hard for in the past months will get repaid. I hope you are doing well, in your body, mind, and spirit. I hope everyone will stay healthy amidst the threat of COVID-19. On another note, since it is the weekend, it’s time to ditch those work clothes and don more comfortable clothes. I hope you all enjoy the weekend and that you are able to rest well.
Before I can dive into the weekends, let me close this week with a First Impression Friday update. After spending the past two months immersing myself in the works of Japanese (July) and Asian (August) literature, I have realized I have been lagging behind on some of my reading goals this year. Unfortunately, I have been making very little to no progress in most of them. Thankfully, it is not too late so I have reorganized myself in order to meet all my 2022 reading goals and challenges. A staple of my annual reading journey is my Top 20 reading list – 22 for 2022 – a tradition that I have started back in 2017. At the start of the year, I list at least 20 books from my current pile that I will make sure to read during the year. So far, I have completed twelve of the 22 books I have listed. This makes Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides the thirteenth book from the aforementioned list.
Jeffrey Eugenides first captured my attention with his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Middlesex. The moment I encountered the book in must-read recommendations, I knew I just had to read it. It had such a pull and I wasn’t wrong for the book astonished me, so much so that I set out to read his other novels. I did find The Marriage Plot a little underwhelming but it did not stop me from indulging myself in Eugenides’ debut novel, The Virgin Suicides. Honestly, back then, I was a little reluctant to read the book because of the assumptions I made about the title alone. I eventually relented and obtained a copy of the book, hence, making it my third by Eugenides.
As the title suggested, the core of the story is a string of suicides. This event involved the five daughters of the Lisbon family: Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese. Equally attractive, they were born into a devoutly Catholic family. Ronald, the family patriarch, worked as a math teacher at the local high school. The matriarch, on the other hand, concerned herself with the upkeep of the family abode and looking after the children and her husband. The novel did not sugarcoat as it immediately jumped into action. The youngest daughter, Cecilia, attempted to take her life. The first one was unsuccessful but the second was successful. The second attempt was rather graphic.
There is no mystery to the story as the narrator, a young male who went to school with the Lisbon girls already mentioned the fate of the five sisters. Instead, the mystery that swirled involved the character of the sisters. However, the readers are only handed second-hand accounts, from the narrator and his fellow young male who observed the Lisbon girls from a distance. The premise is interesting and Eugenides is an engrossing storyteller, as always. However, what I am looking forward to is the unraveling of the main reason for the five sisters’ decision to take their own lives. Depression was repeatedly mentioned but, like in the language of the 1990s, it was a term loosely used. Eugenides’ perspective vividly mirrored the attitude of the time.
I have just a couple more of pages before I complete the book. Like the first two books by Eugenides I read, The Virgin Suicides stands out on its own. However, for a book that purports to explore mental health, I find its discourse a little underbaked. I guess this is because of the attitude of the period the story is set in or maybe because the main perspective is from a spectator. We only get to observe the Lisbon girls from an outsider. But with a couple more pages to go, I do expect some sort of a eureka moment that will tie all of the novel’s strands together.
As always, Eugenides is making me think deeper. I can’t wait to complete this book over the weekend. How about you fellow reader? What book or books are you taking with you for the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy them. For now, happy weekend! And as always, happy reading and take care!