My opinion: It has it's moment but mainly is quite rambling and not that readable. It's not quite finished yet either
Constructive criticism would be thoroughly welcomed!
The Virgin Suicides tells the story of the five Lisbon girls who live out most of their short adolescence under house arrest in leafy suburbia. Their portraits are painted from the perspective of the neighbourhood boys who were infatuated and hoard, visually and literally, every available scrap of the girls’ lives.
(Exhibits #13-#15) Therese’s chemistry write-ups, Bonnie’s history paper on Simone Weil, Lux’s frequent forged excuses from phys. ed…(101)
The book begins with the attempted suicide of the youngest, thirteen year old Cecilia, and ends with the middle sister Mary, reciprocating successfully. The interim is a montage of the girls’ secluded yet distinct lives and how they captured, and perhaps prescribed, the frustrated languor of the boys’ adolescence. The montage is assembled with the utmost attentiveness yet despite having observed the most intimate details about the girls ….Peter Sissen found Mary Lisbon’s secret cache of cosmetics tied up in a sock under the sink: tubes of red lipstick and the second skin of blush and base, and the depilatory wax that informed us she had a moustache we had never seen…the narrative is still characterised by their inability to know the Lisbon sisters or to understand exactly what it was that drove them to take their lives.
The occasions on which the boys get direct access to the objects of their adoration amount to two. The first is after Cecilia’s attempted suicide when the resident psychiatrist, Dr Hornicker, suggests that she would benefit from more socialising. In accordance with his advice, Mr and Mrs Lisbon relax their rules and allow the girls a chaperoned party. In the second instance, Trip Fontaine, the school heart throb, negotiates Homecoming dates for the four remaining girls. Both of these occasions end in disaster: respectively Cecilia’s suicide and Lux staying out all night with Trip. Consequences which only serve to intensify the isolation in which the girls are kept (They are taken out of school after Homecoming)
However on these rare occasions the girls are shown to be playful and, given the inscrutability that has grown around them, surprisingly normal. It is the persistence of these characteristics that lifts you into believing in and empathising with the boys in their attachment to life-loving girls at odds with circumstance.
The narrative is not built on tension; the climax is inevitable, revealed as it is in the first line; but on the kind of scrutiny that accounts not only for detail but also for atmosphere. It is twenty years on from the suicides when the boys piece together their recall yet the days are thick with summer and the visceral sense invasions of what it means to be very much alive.
The prose style is lyrical and has a momentum that carries you through death and despair with such a wry and light step that you never get bogged down in the subject matter. This is probably because The Virgin Suicides is a love story before it is a study of suicide. The focus is never on the absences and emptiness that are at the core of self destruction but on the charm and allure of the girls. The suicides are most significant insofar as they break the boys’ hearts.
It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them and they hadn’t heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house with our thinning hair and soft bellies calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.