No one should be surprised by the poignancy and emotional vigor of Elizabeth Strout's new novel. But the broad social and political range of The Burgess Boys shows just how impressively this extraordinary writer continues to develop.... As she showed in Olive Kitteridge, Strout is something of a connoisseur of emotional cruelty. But does anyone capture middle age quite as tenderly? Those latent fears—of change, of not changing, of being alone, of being stuck forever with the same person. There seems no limit to her sympathy, her ability to express, without the acrid tone of irony, our selfish, needy anxieties that only family can aggravate—and quell.
Ron Charles - Washington Post
Strout’s follow-up to her 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner Olive Kitteridge links a trio of middle-aged siblings with a group of Somali immigrants in a familiar story about isolation within families and communities.... Strout excels in constructing an intricate web of circuitous family drama, which makes for a powerful story, but the familiarity of the novel’s questions and a miraculously disentangled denouement drain the story of depth
As in her Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteredge, Strout promises to make everyday small-town life luminous and absorbing. Brothers who have fled upstate Shirley Falls for New York City return when their sister needs help with her troubled teenage son.
The scenario gives Strout an opportunity to explore the culture of the Somalis who have immigrated to the state in recent years.... But this is mainly a carefully manicured study of domestic (American and household) dysfunction.... A skilled but lackluster novel that dutifully ticks off the boxes of family strife, infidelity and ripped-from-the-headlines issues.
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