“The Virgin Suicides” Still Holds the Mysteries of Adolescence by Emma Cline
This article has been published by The New York Times. It begins:
I still own the copy of “The Virgin Suicides” that I first read in high school, the evidence of my teen-age self on its pages: water-rippled from many hours in the bath, stained with juice from the tangerines I used to eat in great quantities. It’s a book I’ve read many times now, but I still remember that original encounter, how it felt like a flare from my own secret world, all the inchoate longings and obsessions of being a teen-ager somehow rendered into book form. Even the five Lisbon sisters seemed like some mirror of me and my four younger sisters—I knew the peculiarity of a household filled with girls, the feverish swapping of clothes, the rituals and ablutions, experiencing adolescence like some long-standing illness from which we all suffered. The world of “The Virgin Suicides” was gothic and mundane, just like the world of teen-agers, with our desire to catalogue and make meaning out of any sign or symbol, even the mildest of occurrences taking on great portent. It was exhausting to live that way, believing in the significance of every feeling, tracking every minor emotional shift. But still: sometimes I miss it.