Some authors have a unique ability to create background stories within their novels and weave the details seamlessly into the narrative, making it relevant, but I think that is a rare skill. When it doesn't work, the book ends up being disjointed and unfocused, which is exactly what happens in The Burgess Boys. There are several story lines running and it's unclear which is supposed to be the main point. First is the struggle the Burgess siblings have in dealing with the death of their father after a freak accident when they were children. Then there are all of the relationships each of Burgess kids has with their spouses and friends and kids. Finally is the hate crime story.
This book didn't do much for me. I never really cared about any of the characters and in fact found their interactions and behaviors at times appalling. I guess I just couldn't relate. However, I think if this was a book club selection it would generate some lively discussion related to the various current issues addressed but never resolved.