E’s Book Reports

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Book reports. Ewww. Catholic nuns and elementary school. 

But here’s the thing. I really like writing book reports, and I try to make them interesting. I am not going to call them “reviews” because they may give away parts of the books (you have been warned). Most of all, I love recommending books to that the person who will really appreciate them (message me if you want me to recommend books to you).

The Virgin Suicides

By Jeffrey Eugenides

“We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing which colors went together. We knew that the girls were our twins, that we all existed in space like animals with identical skins, and that they knew everything about us though we couldn’t fathom them at all. We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.”

“During the dance, she made polite conversation, the kind beautiful young women make with dukes during waltzes in old movies. She held herself very straight, like Audrey Hepburn, whom all women idolize but men never think about.”

“‘Where will we go?’

‘Florida’ Chase Buell said. 

‘Cool,’ said Lux. ‘Florida.’”

You know that feeling when you read something and you are just knowledgeable enough to realize you missed out on a lot of the book? 

That’s the feeling I got when I read this. 

It’s part subtle rebellion against American suburbia, part celebration of femininity, part a tale of innocence lost, and part re-enacted Greek mythology. All in all, it’s very creepy. 

In it, there are five sisters. We know that they end up killing themselves- the book is called the “Virgin Suicides”- but the masterful Eugenides builds up suspense by starting the book with the attempted suicide of the youngest sister and only killing off the rest of them at the end of the book. Just when you think they are going to escape their sad fates, they do it. And you feel kind of satisfied because you always knew it was going to happen but also frustrated because they almost escaped. 

I think one of the most interesting parts of this very interesting book is that the narrators are the neighborhood boys who stalk the five sisters. They tell the story from hindsight and are completely enthralled with these mysterious but not particularly charming almost-women. With them the reader can get completely wrapped up in the magic of these five suicidal sisters. 

Eugenides never quite reveals why the girls kill themselves, but you catch the drift of the reason by the way the family falls apart in the oppressive community they live in. 

I recommend this book for the summer, when you are starting to feel just a little bit tired of the whole season but you definitely don’t want to go back to school. In the dog days, when you are so lazy you can’t do anything except read and google Greek myths about elm trees. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

By Stephen Chbosky

“There’s nothing like the deep breath after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons.”

“When I was driving home, I just though about the word ‘special’… I was very grateful to have heard it again. Because I guess we all forget sometimes. And I think everyone is special in their own way. I really do.”

This book is much sadder than “The Virgin Suicides,” but I recommend it to everyone who has ever endured adolescence or felt their more introverted selves take over. 

It’s a bildungsroman about an adolescent boy named Charlie. I wouldn’t describe Charlie as “shy,” as I would not describe myself as shy, because shyness infers a fear of social interaction. He just thinks a lot and this sometimes prevents him from “participating in life” (one of my mother’s favorite phrases). In this book, Charlie learns what it is like to have friends, modify his brain chemically, and make all of his friends really mad and have to be alone again. 

I have to admit, I empathize a lot with Charlie. I spent a lot of my adolescence analyzing people in the slightly autistic yet perceptive way that he does, wishing I could get them to be friends with me but not really knowing how. And then a bunch of boisterous older kids came along and taught me/Charlie how to be a real person. It’s something interesting about true introverts: they are usually their best around true extroverts. 

I think you should read this book the fall before you do something really scary, like start middle school/high school/college. 

I hope I gave you some ideas about the next books you want to read!

E

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