The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I finished this book about three weeks ago, and it’s taken me nearly that long to figure out what I thought about it.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I did, in fact, like it, but not for the reasons I anticipated when I started the book.  Actually, immediately after finishing the book I decided that I didn’t like it much and that it was sort of a flop.  I think the reason for that initial reaction is that I had misled myself regarding the author’s intention and tone before starting it.  And because of that, I want to give anyone else who may pick up this book a heads up so that they can either relax and enjoy it for what it is or decide not to read it at all.

So here’s the heads up:  Despite the fact that in the first chapter of this book a 14-year old girl is brutally raped and murdered and the murderer gets off scott-free, this is not a thrilling crime drama.  The book is written from the point of view of the victim, Susie Salmon, as she watches things unfold from heaven.  She watches her murderer, Mr. Harvey, dispose of her body.  She watches the events in her neighborhood as her family discovers her missing and follows the investigation that goes nowhere.  But most of the book is Susie watching her family and friends recover from her death and move on with their own lives in the months and years to follow. 

Susie describes heaven as a pleasant place where anything she wants appears almost before she can think of it.  But what Susie wants most of all is what she can’t have, and that is to be back among the living and those she loves.  And that’s where the book really shows its mettle:  Amidst Susie’s incredible longing she takes notice of the beautiful details of the living.  She remembers moments of her life that she took for granted, and she sees the people in her life more clearly than before.  Her observations are even-toned and rarely judgmental, even when watching her mother break down and leave her family.  Eventually, Susie seems to find peace within herself and her message to the reader is to enjoy life, notice its details, both beautiful and unpleasant and to be grateful for the experience.

The book has been made into a movie, which I have not seen yet, but plan to.  From the previews it appears that it may take on a slightly more supernatural spin, maybe more of a thriller.  Come to think of it, that may be why I thought the book would be different than it was.

“The Lonely Bones” is a few years old now, and since it came out in 2002, Sebold has written a second novel, “The Almost Moon” which has had mixed reviews.

Published in: on June 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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