The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

The Burgess Boys

Elizabeth Strout

Events force the demographic of small town Shirley Falls to change from white suburbia to colourful Somali. An 'innocent' hate crime by Zach draws his mother and her siblings together into a series of fraught meetings and telephone calls. Whilst the story for me lacks some 'bite', it does raise the interesting way in which, over the months, the family dynamic changes. The saying you can choose your friends and not your family rings true.

Extract

'Me too! I mean, you want to respect their way of life, but how can you respect that? There's controversy in the medical community, of course, because some of these women like to be sewn up again after they have a baby and Western doctors aren't so keen on doing that. Honestly, Bob. It's a little crazy. The woman who wrote the book - I can't pronounce her name - there's a death threat against her, no surprise, for telling the truth. Why aren't you saying anything?'
'Because, first of all, Pam, when did you get like this? I though you were concerned about them, their parasites, their trauma -'
'I am -'
'No you're not. That book is the right wing's dream. Do you not get that? Do you read the paper at all anymore? And second of all, I saw some of these so-called crazy people in the courtoom at Zach's hearing. And guess what, Pam? They're not crazy. They're exhausted.'

Parallels
  • Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie