I read my first Jeffrey Eugenides book, Middlesex, over ten years ago as part of a book club. I feel fairly confident that without the push of the book group I would never have read the book at that point in my life. That’s the great thing about book clubs. Pushing your boundaries and helping you find great books that you wouldn’t have found on your own.
Much time has passed. I read The Marriage Plot a few years ago and it was good, but not great. Not great like I remembered Middlesex.
Then I came upon The Virgin Suicides in my local Salvation Army. Who writes first novels like this?
This is really amazing book. It didn’t scream “I’m great!”. It doesn’t force you to think about how great it is. You end up getting sucked into a story you didn’t really plan to get sucked into. You hope against hope that the girls are going to make it. How are the girls going to make it when the book is called The Virgin Suicides (though, to be fair, the title isn’t entirely true)? The writing was gentle. It creeps up on you until you realize that you’re reading an epic in the form of a suburban story.
I feel completely unqualified to analyze this novel. I can just tell you it’s an amazing read and that as you’re reading it you will understand why they give awards for books. And if you’ve read enough other rough first books, you’ll understand what an achievement this book is.