The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold.
I picked this book on a whim in the library the other day because I found the title and the blurb on the back very interesting. I didn’t know anything about the book prior to reading it except having heard the title of the book. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down and finished it in two nights over the weekend.
The Lovely Bones is a story of a 14-year-old girl named Susie Salmon who is raped and murdered walking home from school in December 1973. Susie is the narrator of the story as she watches over her family and friends from ‘her’ heaven. The first couple of chapters of the book are difficult to get through because of the descriptions of rape and murder but the descriptions play a part in the overall plot of the book. Susie’s heaven is what she wants it to be but she still she is stuck there. She watches the effect her death has on her family and feels helpless to do anything about it.
The reaction to her death is different for each family member. Her father wants the murderer to be found yet as hope that maybe Susie is alive since no dead body was found; her mother closes off and revaluates her life. Lindsey and Buckley, Susie’s siblings have to grow up way too fast and deal with whispers of people around them. The story gets a lot sadder before it gets better.
The part where Susie watches her murderer getting away with his crime is frustrating as there is solid evidence against him. Somehow, Susie makes contact with her family and friends; they see her in mirrors, a fleeting shadow and unknowingly Susie has been talking to her little brother Buckley, who is 6 at the time of her death.
In a way, Susie tries to live her life through her sister Lindsey. The things Lindsey experiences growing up which Susie will never get to live, it is heartbreaking. I think one of the main draw points of the book is maybe after death there is someplace better you go. Everyone has lost someone in their life; the notion of an afterlife in the book is in a way a comforting sentiment. The reaction of individuals during a tragedy especially in the family unit pulls at the reader’s heartstrings.
The book has multiple perspectives as Susie follow the life on earth of the people she cares about. There is almost an innocence in the narration of Susie which kept reminding me that even if it’s been years since her murder, she is still 14 because she never got to grow up.
The book doesn’t weave moral complexities but it draws out feelings of sadness, hope, disturbing images yet a comfort throughout the story. Susie watches over her loved ones for a long time almost ten years before she finally moves on. It starts with disturbing cruelty and by the end, in its own way it can be called a happy ending.
I really liked reading the book, it makes you think about the world and pulls emotions out of you but I don’t think I’ll reread this one.