Book of the Week

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The specter of youth suicide has loomed over this world for a very long time, yet no one really understands the factors which lead to such a drastic action. Why, when there is so much to experience, would some one so young choose to end their own life? In Jeffery Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides, that exact question leads a group of childhood friends to investigate the string suicides of five young sisters.

The sisters seem to be predestined to doom from being raised by an overly constrictive mother. Whether this was a contributing factor, no one is sure, but nonetheless, the excessive nurturing wasn’t enough to keep the youngest sister (13) from attempting suicide by slitting wrists in the bath. She is luckily (?) saved, only to seal the deal a few short weeks later by plunging out her bedroom window to impale herself on the front gate.

After this undoubtedly blatant sign, the parents begin tightening their strangle hold on their daughters’ lives, and the rest of town begins to try and pry their ways into the girls sheltered existence, struggling to understand them as individuals with separate personalities.

As the year passes by, the boys stare at the house wondering what might the girls be doing or thinking. They try many different ways to establish some sort connection with their mysterious infatuations. Eventually, one of the boys convinces the father, the school math teacher, to let him and a group of his friends to take the girls to the homecoming dance. Under very specific conditions the father agrees. But when one of the girls fails to cooperate with such conditions, returning home after curfew, the girls become prisoners in their own home.

With the exception of one sister’s nightly love-making sessions on the roof, the girls become relatively invisible to the boys. The rooftop rendezvous continue into winter and the blistering cold until the EMS truck comes screaming down the street again, but this time they are not carrying away a dead girl’s body, but a very much alive girl, clutching her stomach. Turns out she is actually pregnant and calling the EMS was the safest way to find out without her parents knowing.

The girls once again get locked up in the decaying house, without any contact with the outside world, until they begin trying to communicate with boys across the street with flashing bedroom lights and then eventually leaving short notes in their mailboxes. Eventually the girls allude to “leaving”, and one night the boys go into the house to meet the girls and escape with them, to live happily in love. But while the boys are all investigating the house, they find that the girls’ plan to run away, was actually a plan to commit joint suicide, exactly one year after their youngest sister’s first attempt.

The book continues by trying to reason out the factors which led to this event, but no conclusions are made. Only conjectures about; the nature of how they were raised, their genetic predisposition, the sad state of the world around them, and the loss of love. The only truth one could reach is that whoever the girls were, the boys loved them yet were not heard.