Title: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Year of Publication: 2002
Length: 328 pages
First Line: My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie.
Summary: When we first meet Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. As she looks down from this strange new place, she tells us, in the fresh and spirited voice of a fourteen-year-old girl, a tale that is both haunting and full of hope. In the weeks following her death, Susie watches life on Earth continuing without her-her school friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her family holding out hope that she’ll be found, her killer trying to cover his tracks. As months pass without leads, Susie sees her parents’ marriage being contorted by loss, her sister hardening herself in an effort to stay strong, and her little brother trying to grasp the meaning of the word gone. And she explores the place called heaven. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. There are counselors to help newcomers adjust and friends to room with. Everything she ever wanted appears as soon as she thinks of it-except the thing she most wants: to be back with the people she loved on Earth. With compassion, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie sees her loved ones pass through grief and begin to mend. Her father embarks on a risky quest to ensnare her killer. Her sister undertakes a feat of remarkable daring. And the boy Susie cared for moves on, only to find himself at the center of a miraculous event. The Lovely Bones is luminous and astonishing, a novel that builds out of grief the most hopeful of stories. In the hands of a brilliant new writer, this story of the worst thing a family can face is transformed into a suspenseful and even funny novel about love, memory, joy, heaven, and healing.
Oh, The Lovely Bones. You probably know what you are getting into before you even read it. You are fully aware that the book is about a teenage girl, Susie, who is raped (though the rape part is more of an undercurrent in the book) and murdered. The story is told through Susie, who is in heaven, watching the aftermath of her death. The audience gets to watch her family and friends through the healing process and her murderer get antsier. The novel goes through almost ten years after she passes away and it’s interesting to see how the family progresses or declines. But I, like others apparently, were not too happy with how the story turns out. The book started getting bad when the miraculous event with Ray occurred and it goes downhill from there. If you are looking for justice for Susie’s murder, you won’t get it, which had me ranting to anyone who would listen. I can understand why Sebold ended the book the way she did. Cold cases don’t always get solved or have happy endings. Susie was one of them. But her family grew from the tragedy anyway. I will also say though, the character development in this book disappointed me because there was little to none, which doesn’t make sense for this subject matter. Despite this book’s faults, I really did love it. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
Worst part: The lack of character development and the ending.
Best part: Watching all of these characters heal from this tragedy for almost ten years.
Recommend For: Almost everyone
Other Books by This Author: Lucky: A Memoir and The Almost Moon.