So, we all know that The Virgin Suicides is not a new book so I am late to the party, but I just had to write a review because it’s definitely being added to my favourites shelf.
The book was written in 1993 so it’s cracking on for thirty years old and it was therefore written before mental health became a ‘thing’. Of course, there were obviously people who had depression, but it wasn’t looked upon in quite the same way that it is now.
When I was growing up, my maternal grandmother had schizophrenia and I remember being left in the car while my parents went to visit her in the psychiatric hospital. And back then they were really awful places to be.
My dad has since told me that the visits felt like a waste of time as she was in an almost vegetative state, pumped full of drugs to bring her down from the massive manic episode that she had been through.
The thought of it scared me shitless, and I think everyone was afraid of those places, before the old asylums were shut down. Now it seems almost trendy to have some sort of mental health issue, and I think that the fear of ending up in one of those hospitals would stop a lot of people speaking out about relatively minor illnesses (and may I add that I don’t think that is a good thing – being able to talk about ANYTHING is a good thing).
So, getting back to the book, this was probably quite trailblazing for its time as it looks at mental health and the way that teenagers, in particular, can suffer.
The writing is exquisite and I found myself rereading so many paragraphs just to make the most of those moments. I have watched the movie a long time ago said I had some hazy memories of that and I think that actually fed into my reading of it and made it even more poetic. I definitely feel like I need to go back and rewatch it now.
If you go on Amazon or Goodreads you will see so many awful reviews and I just can’t get my head around how these people didn’t find it as amazing as I did. The only thing I can think is that I do have extremely dark taste and I don’t think some of my favourites sit too well with others because they are a little TOO dark.
For other similar dark books that aren’t rated too highly, I would turn to My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell or How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie.
You will be disgusted and you are welcome.
2 thoughts on “book review: the virgin suicides by jeffrey eugenides”
This is definitely one of those books that gets people talking and thinking, whether they liked or hated the book, Rachel. And to me, anything that gets us taking an honest look at mental health and trying to make our society more supportive of health (both mental and physical) is a good thing. For that alone, I’m glad the book was published.
Agreed. I think that a lot of kids now would find it a bit offensive though as it’s not quite a delicate as it would be written now. I rewatched Dawson’s Creek with Noah the other day and we agreed that even that would be ‘cancelled’ now, because of the way that it approached LGBT and mental health issues.