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I am not going to wait until the end of my review to sum
up my feelings on this book: READ IT!!! The main thing that
spurred my writing about this novel as the release of the
movie in 2000, which was the directorial debut of Sophia Coppola.
(And, yes, I followed the unwritten rule of reading the book
before seeing the movie!) She truly inherited her vision from
her father, good 'ole Francis Ford. Oh, wait. Before I got
into how Sophia interpreted what was written in this book,
perhaps I should tell you what it is about!
The Virgin Suicides takes place in the American 1970's among
an upper-class suburb. The focus is on the good, Catholic
Lisbon family. There is mom and pop Lisbon, who are incredibly
annoying and pitiful, and the less time you spend thinking
on them the better, and their five beautiful daughters: Bonnie,
Cecilia, Lux, Mary and Therese. The Lisbon household is extremely
strict, so the five sisters, walking together into school,
or doing summertime things in the warm front yard causes neighborhood
boys to view the girls in a hazy, untouchable mystery. Though
there are breaks in the Lisbon sister's unwanted solitude,
going with those same neighborhood boys to the homecoming
dance, or attending a doomed party, a mystery the girls will
pretty much stay.
I don't want to get too into the text itself, but more into
what the story represents. To me, anyway.
Pretty much, each Lisbon sister stands for parts of America's
innocence, and how much our society quickly lost such things
as our discipline, our responsibility, our promises, our faith.
How we have ushered in a more, well, loosely moraled existence.
Let's go one step further: Sounds like our society's relationship
Now, to Sophia and her direction. I absolutely loved the
fact that she showed the Lisbon girls as magical, beautiful
and ethereal without crazy camera angles and special effects
(especially Lux, played by Kirsten Dunst.) She stayed with
what they were: girls in adolescence. Who needs sparkly, special
effects for that? The story speaks directly to you, and their
isn't anything to jumble it. In the end, the story is presented
smooth, but with a definite but needed sense of foreboding.
You actually remember what it was like to be a young girl,
and how your mind raced when you were forced to hold in your
passions and happiness at times when it wasn't "right" or
"appropriate". And, perhaps, what it was like to be an adolescent
boy, having to watch the girls around you grow and become
full of life and beauty with very little to no understanding
about what was going on. You just knew you liked it.
OK, call, this a book review, or a movie review. Just call
this story brilliant.
I hated high school, but this story makes even me want to
go through my yearbooks.
--- Teresa Clare