The Burgess Boys (2013) is American author Elizabeth Strout’s fourth novel. Set in Shirley Falls, a fictional town in rural Maine, The Burgess Boys focuses on the lives of Jim and Bob. When they reach adulthood, the Burgess brothers move away from their dying hometown and seek out new lives in New York City. There, Jim and Bob work as lawyers in firms of unequal prestige. Though their relationship is defined by friendly competition, Bob feels hurt by his older brother’s teasing. When they were boys, their father died in a freak car accident caused by Bob, and Jim’s casual cruelty constantly reminds him of his guilt. Their lives change one day when they receive a call from their sister Susan, who never left Shirley Falls. Susan calls seeking legal aid for her son, who stands accused of committing a hate crime. As the Burgess siblings reconnect, old wounds reopen and reveal long-hidden tensions. The Burgess Boys is the first novel Strout published after she won the Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge (2008). Though the later novel didn’t receive the same degree of praise, critics reviewed it favorably, commending Strout’s insight into the complexities of human intimacy.


Go to to get your copy of these helpful resources.