The Burgess Boys

The Burgess Boys Summary

NEW YORK TIMESBESTSELLER • Includes Elizabeth Strout’s never-before-published essay about the origins of The Burgess Boys

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post •NPR • Good Housekeeping

Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout’s “magnificent gift for humanizing characters.” Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature.
Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.
With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

Praise for The Burgess Boys

“What truly makes Strout exceptional . . . is the perfect balance she achieves between the tides of story and depths of feeling.”Chicago Tribune

“Strout’s prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity.”The New Yorker

“Elizabeth Strout’s first two books, Abide with MeandAmy and Isabelle,were highly thought of, and her third, Olive Kitteridge, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. But The Burgess Boys,her most recent novel, is her best yet.”The Boston Globe

Book Reviews


Good read5 star

My second read of Elizabeth Strout Good story I too would say, I want to sit with Elizabeth Strout and have a cup of coffee. In her writing, I again can absolutely hear her voice telling this story.55


Didn’t want it to end.5 star

This book was lovely on so many fronts.55


A miss2 star

I expected more from the number of positive reviews but was disappointed and had to speed read to get through it. The characters weren’t developed and were depressing - the story itself wasn’t interesting because of that. In the end I just didn’t care what their backstory or even current story was.25


Masterful Storytelling5 star

Complicated yet clearly written, this story takes off in many unexpected directions. Much of the action is directed by questions of place, personality, circumstance and deception, with a good look at preconceived perceptions of native and immigrant populations. Fulfilling and thought provoking.55

Perky too

The Burgess Boys5 star

Sorry, #6...this book was anything but slow. Beautifully written, with very interesting characters, each one with his/her own story. I have read all of Elizabeth Strout's books and this is her best work.55

Lee Chinalai

Reader5 star

Half the book is now highlighted with sentences I found staggeringly phrased, beautiful or insightful, or usually all three. I want to sit down and have a cup of tea with Elizabeth Strout who has become one of my favorite authors. The disappointment in finishing The Burgess Boys thank is matched by the anticipation of reading Abide with Me. Thank goodness.55

Book looker

The Burgess Boys5 star

Wonderful book! Don't you love books about Maine. Well written a page turner.55


Boring1 star

A slllllloooooowwwwwv read. I kept waiting for a twist in the story, something to boost it, but it never came. I couldn't get through it. Very disappointing.15


Took a chance4 star

This book was an unexpected pleasure to read. Terrific character development and a story well told. I will definately look into her other books, as this was the first I had read by her.45


All in a Name5 star

The only reason I chose to read this book is because my name is Burgess, and I was curious. Now, I want it read other books by Ms Strout. The character development was thorough and the author took the opportunity to weave different cultures and diversity into a fabric of family and community.55

Other Books by Elizabeth Strout

My Name Is Lucy Barton


My Name Is Lucy Barton
3.5     995
Olive Kitteridge


Olive Kitteridge
4     1333
Olive, Again


Olive, Again
3.5     2773

   Users Online