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The Lovely Bones

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"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."

So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her -- her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, The Lovely Bones succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.

372 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published July 3, 2002

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About the author

Alice Sebold

24 books4,768 followers
Alice Sebold is the author of three #1 bestselling books, including Lucky, and the novels The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon. Her work has been translated into more than fifty languages and has appeared in The New York Times and The Guardian, among other publications. She is a member of the National Leadership Council for RAINN.org (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). She lives in California.

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Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 4 books602 followers
September 24, 2007
The Lovely Bones has got to be the most baffling, poorly written, jaw-droppingly bad book that I have ever set my eyes on. It is truly a black, black tragedy that the words in this book were placed in that particular order, published, and distributed. How could this have ever possibly been popular? Is it for the same reason that the song “My Humps” hit number one? I mean, I don’t technically believe in burning books, but this novel really got me thinking. About burning it.

If it serves any use at all, it might be a perfect guide on how not to write a book. Here are some of my gripes, problems and issues that we can hopefully use to prevent something like this from ever happening again to us, our children, or our children’s children:

It is filled with some of the worst sentence-level writing that I have ever encountered. From bad description to horrible grammar to utterly confusing metaphors, Sebold covered it all. A tell-tale way to spot a weak writer? They can’t stop weirdly describing people’s eyes. Don’t believe me? Try this sentence: “Her eyes were like flint and flower petals.” Or this one: “The tears came like a small relentless army approaching the front lines of her eyes. She asked for coffee and toast in a restaurant and buttered it with her tears.” Really? She buttered the coffee and toast with her tears? Or this one, this time about someone’s heart: “Her heart, like a recipe, was reduced.” What the hell?

And here’s my favorite eye description in the book: “Her pupils dilated, pulsing in and out like small, ferocious olives.” That’s right. Ferocious olives. I’ve read MadLibs that make more sense than that.

It seems to lack a plot. You know, that thing that books are supposed to have. I’ll never forget my first workshop with Brady Udall, in which he threw my story onto the table and said, “This isn’t a story, Sarah, it’s a situation.” And as much as I despaired when I got home, he was right. Sebold has the same problem: her book is a really long situation. A girl dies and watches her family from heaven. Okay. That’s nice. But what do the characters want? What drives the story forward? Nothing. The characters get older and keep bumping into each other. Things change, and things often do, but there is no forward movement and certainly no building of suspense.

Since there’s no plot, the ending is just a bunch of weird stuff happening. I read the last thirty pages on the train this morning, and couldn’t stop a few outbursts: “Oh, no she didn’t!” I’d say, talking to Alice Sebold and her crazy ways. She is just plain bold when it comes to doing whatever she feels like, and she feels like doing the weirdest stuff ever. It’s not that I don’t want to write spoilers here, it’s that I can’t even explain to you what happened at the end of the book. And I bet she can’t either. I’m not exaggerating.

Her characters never have interesting or complex thoughts. Not even the serial killer or the mother whose daughter was murdered. It seems that Sebold’s characters do one of two things: they laugh (which means they are happy) or cry (to butter their toast, somehow, when they are sad). As you might guess, there is a lot of laughing and crying in this book. When a character is confused, they laugh and cry at the same time. This also happens often.

I feel a little better after venting. But I’m still deeply sad and angry. I feel like my own writing might have been permanently damaged by reading this book… like a couple of… ferocious… olives?

Profile Image for Seth T..
Author 4 books872 followers
March 20, 2013
One book, two rapes. How's that for a bargain? (The book only advertises one.) Yuck.

The book in question is Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. I'm not giving anything away by saying it's a book about a girl (the narrator) who was murdered. That's revealed in the book's second sentence. It's also not a big deal to let you know she was raped and murdered by a neighbour, George Harvey. That all is related pretty early on. What isn't revealed until maybe the last fifty pages is that the girl herself, Susie Salmon, becomes a rapist.

Ideologically, I'm not certain which one is worse. I could be persuaded.

But the way the book presents the two incidents is markedly different. One is revealed in low lights and has a horror edge to it. It's seen unilaterally as an evil, wicked deed. The other is the book's highlight, the moment at which the author breathes a sigh of relief and says that everything else made right. I suppose it makes sense; the narrator probably wouldn't see her actions for what they were. But in the end, both George and Susie deal with their childhood victimizations in that manner typical to the criminal genre these days.

Both George and Susie had horrible things happen in their formative years that leave long-lasting scars. The only difference is that George Harvey lived and Susie Salmon died. Not that it makes much difference. Susie is as alive a character as George for the purposes of the story. They both want what they want and care little for the well-being of the women who get in their way. The difference is that George Harvey is portrayed as the villain he is, while little Susie Salmon is treated as a hero.

Those who have read the book may not have even noticed Susie's complete abandonment of moral sense or care for the woman she violates. After all, she doesn't exactly couch things in those terms. So here it is, laid out for you.

When Susie was alive, there was a boy who liked her, Ray. In the years after her death, Ray grows up to be, in the narrator's view, an attractive young man. She watches him and loves him. Somehow, events conspire to allow Susie to possess the body of Ruth, a friend of Ray's. Susie uses the opportunity to seduce Ray and they make love several times in the course of a few hours. And then Susie has to go back to heaven. Leaving Ruth, a victim of Susie's power over her body.

Imagine that you're Ruth. You wake up. Naked. Probably a little tender. Used. In the back of some bike shop. With a man in the shower. That's what I call horror. Not only was she not conscious or aware for any of the immediately preceding events, but the guy who's been really her only friend in the world is now naked and telling her that he screwed her brains out while she was unconscious. And even if he doesn't tell her that, there's a very short rail of evidence and it all points to that conclusion. And now. She could be pregnant. She could be diseased.

Yep. The crowning act of love on the part of the tale's heroine is little more than a petty, rapacious act of power over the helpless woman who got in her way. Good job Susie Salmon. You and George Harvey should get along nicely.

p.s. even though I called it a spoiler, I think that Alice Sebold spoiled the book. Not me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for KT.
4 reviews15 followers
January 24, 2008
Haaaaaated it. I am one of those OCD literary nerds who takes on a war bunker mentality with books that I've started and dislike: "I will see this through to the end."
For "The Lovely Bones," I made an exception.
Somewhere, sometime, someone told Sebold she could write. That person should be made to apologize to me, in person, and to all other poor souls who were duped into buying this shlock.
The literary press also needs to break out the cattails for a serious bout of flogging. Lev Grossman of Time Magazine is at the top of my flogging docket; he called this book "a beautiful, sensitive, melancholy novel" and repeated that claim a year later in a review for a book called "The Dogs of Babel" (a book just as terrible as The Lovely Bones). I can only assume that Mr. Grossman confined his reading to the zeros on the check accompanying the publisher's blurb or else has some sort of vitamin deficiency that causes his brain to process ham-handed tripe as "beautiful" art.
It was Mr. Grossman's review along with the alluring premise of the novel (a young girl posthumously tries to make sense of the events that led to her death) that led me to order "The Lovely Bones" and "The Dogs of Babel," which at the time were only available in hardcover. Financial reasons made this an extremely uncommon practice for me, and my experience reading both of those novels ensured that I would never do so again.
To further illustrate how absolutely wretched this novel is, I'm going to provide a paragraph of background. The "substance" of the novel will be criticized in the subsequent body of this review.
During the summer of 2003, I was occupying space as an intern at a company that accepted me at the last minute and had nothing for me to do. The company was white-collar and behemoth in office space. HR sent me to an deserted floor to file documents that took up, at most, 2 hours of my 8-hour day. Even in this vacuum of monotony, I could not finish this book. I chose to watch paint chip away, and pick up dust bunnies with recycled paper (I didn't have a broom) rather than finish this book.
So with that said, I suppose I should actually mention something specific about the book I hated. My caveat here is that I am unwilling to punish myself by picking through a copy of the book for textual examples. I'm going by memory and online synopses alone.
The narrator and victim is "Susie Salmon." Let me stop there. SUSIE SALMON. That really should have clued me in, but I was too eager to see how the author would represent the afterlife, to catch a glimpse of this beautiful pain of looking a life that goes on without you.
Unfortunately, Sebold managed to bleach out anything remotely interesting out of the plot in spectacular fashion. Heaven is a school, you see, not that Susie spends much time there or learns anything. Her rapist and murderer is a creepy loser while somehow being the dullest of all of Sebold's numerous dull characters. The "reason" for his murderous tendencies could be guessed by anyone who's ever even heard of a pop psychology book.
You'd think her family would at least be interesting in grief, but Sebold reduces them to one note drones.
Everything in The Lovely Bones is a gimmick, played cheaply for sentiment and with no other reward. I'd compare to a Hallmark movie, but Hallmark movies do not adopt the pretension that Sebold belabors with terrible pseudo-post-modernist metaphors.
All of this would be bad enough, but what made me throw this book "aside with great force" is the offensive, and unjustifiable resolution to Susie's laments that she did not get to live. This unfairness, although poorly developed, was at least a cause of sympathy until Susie decides to forcibly correct it at the expense of others. In the hands of someone else, this last turn could've been bleak insight into motivations of the cycle of victimization but Sebold conveys not one iota of ambivalence.
Much of my hatred of this novel results from its inexplicable popularity and commendation from people who have a responsibility to promote reading. I shudder to think who else picked up this novel convinced it was the best that the contemporary literary world had to offer. It is not my intention to slam those who enjoyed this book. If you did, I am glad to hear it. I love books, and I want others to love books. I simply fear that someone who is tempted out of a long vacation from reading might pick up a novel like this and give up the cause for lost.
Profile Image for Carolynn.
5 reviews25 followers
September 22, 2007
I worked at Borders for more than a year and I worked the boring ass registers, usually at night whic was always slow. I leaned there with my chin in my hand staring at the shelves actually wishing that I could help customers in their purchases. It's purely insane, but I think that's what happens anytime you place someone in any kind of confinement. The thing is that if I wasn't a register girl, I would have constant actual contact with the books themselves.

All lunacy aside, one book that I stared at the entire time was this one, cuz it was literally on the number one shelf in the front of the store for a good two years or so. It sounded interesting and got good critical reviews despite its sucess with the bookish Oprah-watching housewife types. So, I REALLY didn't wanna jump on the bandwagon and read it. But at the same time I would open it and try. But I just didn't get into it.

Last week or so, I was reading a friend's blog and she talked about reading the book and how it was so affecting that she found herself driving to work in complete tears. From then on an invisible seed had been planted. I went to the library the other day to pay my fines ($2.75! Man.) and suddenly remembered the book.

I read it in three nights. Sebold's voice is entirely unique. Never seen it before ever. I think that being allowed into the vision and point of view of another person is probably one of the awesomest feelings ever. I think that's what it is to be in love, actually. Get in someone's skin, sit in a recliner in a little theatre located behind their eye sockets, and just watch. Not judge, not worry, not affect. Just experience someone who is so not you.

Sebold allows this on two levels. She sets you up in the front row seat right next to Susie the murdered and raped 14 year old while she watches her former world from Heaven. But she also delivers this language that is new, original, totally fresh and yet entirely accessible. At 3am. In bed. From a free city library borrow.

Her characters are completely amazing individuals, but not unreal or impossible. The way she wrote the book, from Suzie's viewpoint, was definitely some work on her part. And she pulls it off. What I really enjoyed is the way she would sneak in these little pieces of info - I call them " 'omg, are you serious?' mystery info nuggets". She would just be writing a scene, and at an unsuspecting moment she'd just add in a little sentence. And ofcourse, since the story revolves around the grief of the family and the Susie's unsolved case, their are moment of utter thrill as the reader joins the characters in their search for understanding, motive and the killer himself. The sentences feel like when you've been looking for something non-urgent for a while, and it's not really a big deal to find it now or later, but when you do find it your like, 'Man, now I can do this, and this and that, cuz I finally found this thing that I've been inactively searching for for a while'. So, the nuggets definitely keep you reading and sometimes they even make you say, 'omg' out loud.

As always, if you read the first few pages and hate it, then don't force the feeling. Just cuz I thought it was a total modern classic, don't mean anything if it really ain't your thing. Either way, truly a great story, even if your mom thinks so too.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
431 reviews4,220 followers
September 3, 2023
Out of my entire reading list for 2022, more people commented about The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold than all of the other books combined!

The Lovely Bones begins with the tragic death of a fourteen-year-old girl, Susie Salmon (like the fish). From there, we follow Susie’s family and friends as well as Susie’s murderer.

The Lovely Bones starts off very strong, and the impulse to read more is almost overwhelming. However, the book is downhill from there.

Writing a book that begins with a death is very unusual. Most authors usually begin in the middle. Unfortunately, the death is the most interesting part of the book, so the rest of the book simply dragged. In my opinion, the plot was interesting, but the execution lacked.

First, The Lovely Bones would have been more compelling as a short story. Another book that begins with a death is The Death of Ivan Ilych, and it is 86 pages. The Lovely Bones is 328 pages (in my copy). The author glosses over a number of years in a single chapter, highlighting a few key events. However, I didn’t feel invested with this vague style of writing (telling rather than showing).

Second, if I was the editor of this book, I would have given each character their own chapter. There were a great number of characters in this book, and the author should have gone deep instead of wide. I’m still not even sure who Hal is. And I was confused whose boyfriend was Lindsey’s and whose was Susie’s. Also, whatever happened to Len?

Third, the ending is horrible, entirely forgettable, and almost laughable.

Overall, The Lovely Bones had a strong beginning, but the storytelling should have been much stronger.

A big thank you to everyone who participated in The Lovely Bones Readalong!

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Profile Image for Ted.
23 reviews13 followers
July 28, 2007
Two-dimensional stereotyped characters
-Mother – living with the regret of losing her independence to the demands of childrearing. The tragic loss of a daughter accelerates her departure from those heavy burdens and into the arms of the detective working the case.
-Father – obsessed to the point that he neglects the living members of his family destroying his relationship with his wife. Only in her absence is he able to fall in love with her “all over again”.
-Detective – his ‘sob-story’ past (wife committed suicide) explains his devotion to make sense of senseless death by solving cases of murdered women. This leads him into the arms of the latest victim’s mother (who, incidentally, reminds him of his dead wife - eww).
-Mrs. Singh – the exotic, wise, independent, and strong foreigner who calmly dispenses cool sage-like personal advice to near-strangers.
-George Harvey – the ‘odd-but-harmless neighbor’ otherwise know as the psychotic pedophile/murderer who builds dollhouses in his spare time. Queue soundtrack with mangled version of a nursery rhyme transposed to a minor key ungainly lobbed from a detuned piano. Snippets from his mildly troubling childhood are revealed…explaining nothing.
-Grandma Lynn – the often drunk but all-knowing grandmother with a ‘wacky’ liberal perspective on life.
-I could go on…the youngest sibling who sees the ghost of Susie as his imaginary friend, the sister who struggles to become her own person from under the shadow of her dead sister, her boyfriend as the complete antithesis to the evil Mr. Harvey, her boyfriend’s older brother as the macho gear-head with a heart of gold.

The Narrative
There is only the occasional passage where the narrator’s voice sounds like that a teenage girl from the mid-seventies (“Lindsay had a boy in the kitchen!” – oh the giddiness of it all!). Small blessings. Cliché after cliché. If you haven’t already gotten a sense of the hackneyed construction of this book please re-read the first page of this rant. Only a sportscaster from some small-town cable station would stand a fighting chance of besting Sebold in a contest of cliché slinging.

The Ending
Worthy of Hallmark. Every loose end is tied up with nobody owning up to the consequences of their actions (with the exception of Mr. Harvey, because he’s bad, you see). The family is reunited, the murderer is murdered, the daughter marries her high school sweetheart and has a child of her own (thus proving that life does go on…sniff), and lastly, the teenaged ghost of murdered Susie Salmon transcends her personal minor heaven (a staging ground for spirits who persistently cling to the living world) by ‘falling’ back to earth, inhabiting the now 20-something body of a lesbian acquaintance in order to trespass into another person’s home and have sex with the now 20-something boy she had a crush on shortly before her murder. The moral? Only after wilfully experiencing the delightful carnal pleasures of the flesh can one, even the spirit of a murdered teenaged girl, let go of those lost earthly pleasures and move on to a higher and presumably more enlightened plane of existence where you are free to smite those that have wronged you. Touching, really.

The Lovely Bones reviews
-Why do they always say “brutal” murder or “brutal” rape? Is that opposed to the “wonderful” murders and “superb” rapes in other novels?
-Did any of these reviewers even read the book?! They just seem to be reading each other’s reviews, praising the unique first person narrative of a protagonist in heaven and how it deals with such a horrifying topic. The fist person perspective does not offer anything new and the only thing horrifying here is that people consume mind-numbing garbage like this at an alarming rate.
-There’s nothing new here. What was the point? Aside from, paranormal sex is a wonderfully liberating experience for both the possessive-spiri
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
February 9, 2011
After hearing all the hype about this book, I couldn't wait to read it and discover how amazing it is for myself. I was greatly disappointed.

How has this book become such a worldwide success? It's slow, boring and there is no real connection with any of the characters. I found myself disliking everyone in the book.
The overall idea could have been very good, even though it isn't exactly original, but I just thought the author didn't make the most of this great idea that she had. The best part of the book, without meaning to sound gruesome and morbid, was the death scene at the beginning. I admit that it was creepy and well told, I read that and geared myself up for a good book. But for me, it was as if the story ended there and the rest was a load of slow-moving waffle. The great idea had come along, happened for a while, and then died a painful death with the protagonist. The characters weren't interesting enough to hold up the rest of the story, I was just relieved when I finally got to the end. It was a painfully boring book... and I've lost count of the times people have told me how much they love it - why? Did I miss something? I honestly feel like I've read a completely different book from everyone else... I do not understand it's popularity at all.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews42 followers
August 9, 2021
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones is a 2002 novel by American writer Alice Sebold. It is the story of a teenage girl who, after being raped and murdered, watches from her personal Heaven as her family and friends struggle to move on with their lives while she comes to terms with her own death.

On December 6, 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon takes her usual shortcut home from her school through a cornfield in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

George Harvey, her 36-year-old neighbor, a bachelor who builds doll houses for a living, persuades her to look at an underground kid's hideout he constructed in the field.

Once she enters, he rapes and murders her, then dismembers her body and puts her remains in a safe that he dumps in a sinkhole, along with throwing her charm bracelet into a pond.

Susie's spirit flees toward her personal Heaven, and in doing so, rushes past her classmate, social outcast Ruth Connors, who can see Susie's ghostly spirit. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی ام اکتبر سال 2003میلادی

عنوان: استخوانهای دوست داشتنی؛ اثر: آلیس سبالد (سیبالد)؛ مترجم: فریدون قاضی نژاد؛ تهران، روزگار، 1382، در 495ص، شابک9643740285؛ چاپ دوم 1383، چاپ چهارم 1384؛ چاپ پنجم 1386؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات آمریکا سده 21م

عنوان: استخوانهای دوست داشتنی؛ اثر: آلیس سیبالد؛ مترجم: میترا معتضد؛ تهران، البرز، 1382، در 435ص، شابک 9644423682؛

عنوان: استخوانهای دوست داشتنی؛ اثر: آلیس سیبالد؛ مترجم: فریده اشرفی؛ تهران، مروارید، 1383، در 421ص، شابک 9645881536؛

قهرمان داستان، دختری چهارده ساله، به‌ نام «سوزی» است؛ او پس از آنکه از سوی «جرج هاروی»، مورد تجاوز قرار گرفته، و به قتل می‌رسد، با زبانی کودکانه، و جذاب، رویدادهای پس از مرگ خویش را، روایت می‌کند؛ لحن کودکانه ی «سوزی»، با گذشت سال‌ها، همچنان کودکانه می‌ماند، و این روح، به روایت ماجراهایی می‌پردازد، که در طول ده سال، پیرامون والدین، دوستان، پلیس، و حتی قاتلش، رخ می‌دهد؛ راوی همچنین توصیفی ساده و صمیمی، از بهشتی که در آن مستقر شده، ارائه می‌دهد؛ و ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 14/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 17/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Claire Greene.
23 reviews66 followers
April 14, 2008
This book has single handedly shown me that I spend too much time skimming and not enough time really reading and thinking about the books I have been reading. I have two kids and so I'm busy and I often find myself reading when I am stealing time or tired. But that is not even an excuse for this book. When i read the book I thought it was pretty good. Not great, but not bad. I liked the concept and the fact that the girl was the narrator. I like a murder mystery, so I liked the suspense of waiting to see if the guy would get caught, etc. So when all was said and done and I finished the book, I thought - yeah, okay. Not bad, but not great. Then I went online here and read the other reviews, particularly one by TheDane (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/16...) and I went - HEY!! That's right! I mean, the writing alone is something I should have picked up one had I really been paying attention. Pupils pulsing like olives?? Buttering toast with tears?? Umm... I really must have been distracted or skimming like crazy because that is ridiculous. And the real meaning of the final scene went WAY over my head, which I am somewhat ashamed to admit. When I read it, I really was like, yeah yeah, oh that's sweet she got one night with her boyfriend which she had been cheated of and all. But when you slow down and really think of this, the enormity of that is overwhelming. A young girl who dies after being RAPED. A girl who's first sexual experience was RAPE by an older man. A girl who actually barely knew this boy in her life. This girl can only let go of life after having sex. With that boy. That she really didn't know that well. That alone is enough to send of some big alarms. But then you add that she was allowed to go back to earth - to have sex??? Not see her family, not comfort her father and brother and sister? Not point out the killer?? Nope, heaven lets her go back, then of all times, not earlier when she wanted it more, or could have done more both for justice and her family? So the admission to heaven is teen sex? Really? The way to overcome deep grief and gain acceptance and peace is.. again, teen sex? Wow. I missed out as a teen because that was NOT my experience. Okay, now louder warning bells should have been going off. But the final issue - she takes over the body of a "friend". Without the girl's knowledge or permission. The "friend" who is a lesbian. And uses her body to have sex with a boy. Just taking over her body is a violation. Taking over her body and using that time to have sex is another violation. And to have sex with a boy, knowing that is the antithesis of everything this "friend" would have wanted or agreed to is yet another violation. What the hell??? And none of that gets brought up or mentioned. No, it is a feel good ending. yeah! I mean, I have some pretty close friends - some I have known for at least triple the time these two girls have "known" each other - and if I somehow managed to just steal their bodies and have sex with a woman?? Well, it would be good for me that I was already dead. That is a betrayal in the worst sense on so many levels it is shocking. And what of the possible consequences? Pregnancy? STDs? Never mind the "lesser" consequences of emotional damage, damage to their friendship, the trust issues, etc etc etc????? After thinking about it more and more, I was truly embarrassed to have not seen these dark and disturbing connotations, made all the worse for the fact that the author serves this up as the feel good ending - not noticing the irony at all of having the main character who was raped and violated in turn rape and violate a friend, while denouncing the first act as a heinous crime and lauding the second act as happy ending? So in short, I have learned my lesson and I am now making more of an effort to truly read and then think about what I am reading!!!
Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,371 followers
November 2, 2019
I read this book after watching the movie because it was the first time I heard about it.

First, I have to say that I liked the movie very much and I've seen it several times. The scenes from In-Between are one of my all-time favourites. And the moment when Susie's father destroys the ships in bottles is just the best; it keeps popping on my Youtube because I just watched so many times. So, if I go a couple of moths without watching it, Youtube is like: "Here, watch it."

Usually, I'm not much of an audiobook gal, but if there is a version which was narrated by Saoirse Ronan, I'm gonna listen to it!

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

Anyway, why am I talking about a movie here, right? Because I saw it first, I did not compare it with the book, and I believe if I knew the book previous to watching the movie, I would see it in a different light.
However, right now, I see them as two separate entities, there is a movie I enjoy, and a book which is fantastic and both have the power to break my heart.

“And I was gone.”

It's very hard to describe this book without spoiling much. All I'm going to say that even reading quotes gives me the "tension" feeling in my jaw, which I usually have right before I'm about to cry. It just breaks my heart. Because of Susie. Because of the real Susies who go through the same thing she did. Because of their families. And because Georges Harveys exist in the real world.

“The living deserve attention, too.”

But I have to say that this book is right up my alley, I enjoy books when people die and get a chance to relive their last day to make things right, where they are still there and watch their families. It might not be for everyone — definitely something to consider before picking up this book.
Profile Image for Amanda.
336 reviews64 followers
December 23, 2008
I can't review this book by thinking about the plot or about theme and diction, for it is only (and truly) a series of snapshots, candid and sore, that piece together the lives of living people. The delicate sweet soul of a father; a grandmother with the heart of an empath; a sister whose youth and adulthood travel arm in arm; a numb and emptied mother; a young girl then grown woman living pierced on the periphery. This book is about the people in my life and yours whose very essence is pinned down to a spot in time and space--these lovely bones, growing in a soft-shelled skeleton around our lives. It is by turning the pages where these bones grow, that I could reflect on the wheel of life--what a joy (can you call it joy when it's sad?) to witness humanity breathing ceaselessly, moving forward, and loving without remorse. I am at peace to think that this sweet family, though scarred, will smile at another sunrise.

To touch the living is a precious thing.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,302 reviews43.9k followers
May 10, 2021
This book has the one of the harshest, cruelest, darkest opening, has written its name to the literature history!

After being witnessed sweet 14 years old girl: Susie Salmon’s rape and massacre by her creepy, doll maker, 36 years old neighbor, you want to throw up, scream, pump your fist into something, scream more, wish to do something stop the visual images imprinted on your mind!

It is one of the effective thing you want to forget forever but you know it will never fade away!

As the girl’s mother keep saying her name to summon her to the house, her killer doesn’t stop. He finished what he started and dismembered her body as viciously as he ruined her innocence.

He dumps her into sinkhole and throws at her charming bracelet in the pond!

As her spirit flees from her personal heaven, she starts watching how her family struggle with their lives. She even watches her killer and sees him struggling, too, touching the knife he cut her throat, suffering from emotional turmoil. She wants him dead.

She also finds a way to connect with a school outcast Ruth Connors. From now on there are so many resemblances you can catch with Swayze’s Ghost. Even the ending has so many resemblances.

The book started impressively, earth shatteringly strong and Susie’s heart wrenching and extra traumatic, sad spirit story who is trapped in teenage body with a mature, experienced voice to tell her sadness about the people she left behind and her vengeance story was outstandingly emotional and well written.

For too long, I was planning to read this book. I can only tell one thing, please stay the hell away from the movie adaptation. ( of course it’s not about my hate for actress Saoirse Ronan!) After I watched it, I skipped this book for too long but now I understand they just ruined everything about the story starting with killing its essence and spirit!

It’s truly deep, compelling, unconventional and disturbing story but at least the ending was relieving, more hopeful and taking the emotional pressure out from your chest.

It’s a great book as my flashback Saturday choice.

Here are some quotes I’d like to share:

“Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.”

“Each time I told my story, I lost a bit, the smallest drop of pain. It was that day that I knew I wanted to tell the story of my family. Because horror on Earth is real and it is every day. It is like a flower or like the sun; it cannot be contained.”

“Between a man and a woman there was always one person who was stronger than the other one. That doesn’t mean the weaker one doesn’t love the stronger.”

“My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered.”

“If I had but an hour of love,if that be all that is given me,an hour of love upon this earth,I would give my love to thee.”

“There was one thing my murderer didn't understand; he didn't understand how much a father could love his child.”
Profile Image for Steven.
50 reviews8 followers
June 11, 2007
This was the book that made me realise the serious flaw in the theory that if lots of people you see on the tube are reading a book, it must be good. I would say with some confidence that this is the worst book I've ever read in my entire life.

The only thing that kept me going to the end was sheer bloody-mindedness; a determination not to be defeated by any book no matter how brain-deflatingly awful it is. That said, the endless cloying sentimentality in this almost made me throw it in the bin on several occasions, and it contains the single worst simile I've ever encountered in an entire lifetime of book-reading.
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.9k followers
March 21, 2019

This is a fine novella which some enterprising editor persuaded Sebold to transform into a novel. And the novel is not a good one, featuring unbelievable twists and turns and a super creepy ending (but not super creepy in a good way) reminiscent of the movie "Ghost."

My advice: read the first third and stop. If I had done that, I might have given it four stars.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,191 reviews1,818 followers
February 29, 2020
Susie Salmon, salmone proprio come il pesce, ha 14 anni quando il vicino di casa, la sequestra, stupra e fa a pezzi.

Susie: Saorsie Ronan nel film omonimo di Peter Jackson, 2009.

Comincia subito così, questa storia horror che sa diventare molto altro: thriller, introspezione, tenerezza… per certi versi il più strano coming-of-age che abbia letto.
La perdita, l’assenza, il dolore diventano i temi più della detection, del giallo.

Il padre: Mark Wahlberg.

Perché a raccontare tutto è proprio la voce di Susie che da morta si tiene in qualche modo ancora vicina ai suoi familiari, li vede cadere a pezzi, il padre che non si arrende alla mancanza di un colpevole, la madre che invece si allontana, la sorella minore che si sente investita della improvvisa responsabilità di figlia maggiore, il fratellino che reagisce in altra maniera.
Man mano anche Susan si allontana, via via la sua presenza sulla parte della Terra che spetta a quelli come lei, i morti, si fa più labile, inizia un viaggio per una terra lontana.

La madre: Rachel Weisz.

Susie è fragile e meravigliosa come i velieri che suo padre costruisce: e come loro, racchiusi in una bottiglia, Susan è intrappolata e impossibilitata a crescere, a svilupparsi.

La storia personale di Alice Sebold, quella che si desume dal suo romanzo precedente, l’esordio, Lucky, dona alla voce della vittima un’umanità e una consapevolezza speciali.

La nonna: Susan Sarandon.

C’è tanto in queste pagine: normalità e patologia, sogno e veglia, infanzia, adolescenza, età adulta, amore e separazione, paura commozione rabbia disperazione, tenerezza affetto sollievo consolazione, terra di confine, l’ora e il dopo, il qui e l’altrove,

Nella mente del serial killer? Nel cuore dell’orco?
No, nella mente e nel cuore della vittima: molto, ma molto più interessante.

L’assassino: Stanley Tucci.

Nella mente di un assassino ci siamo già stati, “A sangue freddo”, il romanzo di Truman Capote, c'è riuscito benissimo 36 anni prima - e poi altri c'hanno provato, chi c'è riuscito (pochi), non ha mai saputo raggiungere quella vetta. I più hanno fallito.
Qui, adesso, con Alice Sebold siamo dall'altra parte, nella vittima.
E immagino che ci vorranno altri 36 anni per riuscirci altrettanto bene.

Profile Image for Julia Ash.
Author 5 books255 followers
August 25, 2020
THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold earned 5 intense stars from me!

My Tease…

Heaven’s Inbetween is for “the watchers,” those souls who aren’t ready to leave behind their connections to Earth. Souls…who have unanswered questions or unfinished business. Who haven’t learned to accept their deaths.

Fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon is a watcher.

Although Susie knows that Mr. Harvey (whose house is in her neighborhood) raped and murdered her, none of the living know. At least Susie’s father and her younger sister Lindsey have growing suspicions about the loner who has a bird’s-eye-view of Susie’s junior high school and the adjacent sports- and corn- fields from his second floor window. Trouble is, the police have no evidence to implicate Mr. Harvey. All law enforcement knows is that the eccentric widower answers all their questions.

In her Inbetween Heaven, Susie has her own questions, only she doesn’t know the answers. Should she spend her time watching Mr. Harvey, in hopes that he will be stopped? Or should she watch her family as they struggle to accept her death and move forward?

Which focus will heal Susie so she can leave the Inbetween and transition to the Heaven intended to bring her peace?



For me, THE LOVELY BONES offers a spiritual message, which is remarkable since I don’t remember religion being mentioned once!

The story, however, is much more than its surface. From my perspective, THE LOVELY BONES addresses the ancient question of where we (the living and the dead not resting in peace) should focus. Should we focus on plucking out the weeds (like vile Mr. Harvey) in our “fields” of existence? Or…should we focus on growing the corn or wheat or soybeans (which when healthy, will choke out the weeds)?

This seems to be the very question character Susie Salmon struggles with.

I can empathize with this internal conflict, as I wanted more than anything to have Mr. Harvey plucked from the Earth and thrown into burning Hell. To be frank, it was this desired outcome that compelled me to flip the pages.

In fact, I actually wanted to take away a star from my rating because…

But then I restored the star because…


The writing is outstanding. Even the simplest sentences carry emotional weight:

“Inside, my sister’s heart closed like a fist.”


No doubt, it is hard to interject humor into a story like this; however, there is some humor found:

“Grandma Lynn predicted I’d have a long life because I had saved my brother’s life. As usual, Grandma Lynn was wrong.”


This was an intense read that offered a surprising message.

I highly recommend this 5-star read about finding acceptance and peace among the vilest of weeds.

Note: This book contains triggers regarding rape and sexual violence toward children, girls, and women.
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
2,028 reviews763 followers
July 22, 2022

The Lovely Bones is a story told by fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon who was killed while on her way home. She walks through a cornfield on a freezing December of 1973 when her neighbor Mr. Harvey convinced her to check out the underground room he has built. Readers get a glimpse of Susie's heaven and follow her while she watches her family and friends.

I felt it was very interesting to start with the death of the MC. I was hooked at the beginning of the book. It's my mistake to think this is a thriller which it is not, maybe more of a drama? Even though we witness what Susie's family goes through from the moment she was missing to realizing that she wouldn't return to finding her killer, I was not emotionally connected to the story or characters as I had hoped. In no way was this a bad book, but I wish I loved it more. I'm looking forward to watching the movie this weekend.

The audiobook read by the author should be avoided if possible. Alice Sebold literally just reads it to you.
Profile Image for Jessica.
365 reviews24 followers
May 29, 2007
"These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections – sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at a great cost, but often magnificent – that happened after I was gone."

I hardly ever read books when they are first released. I always seem to be a few years behind, for whatever reason. Sometimes this works to my advantage, as it allows me to avoid a degree of hype that surrounds certain books. I do remember seeing the blue cover of The Lovely Bones on shelves in every bookstore when it was released a few years ago and seeing mentions on best-sellers lists. But I didn’t take much interest in it because, sometimes, when a book/movie/album gets so many rave reviews, I’ll expect it to blow me through the roof and will end up disappointed when it’s only mildly entertaining or moving (see: The Time Traveler’s Wife).

I prefer to go in with low expectations and let myself be surprised with greatness. Not that I’m a bitter person or anything. Not at all. Ok, I’m working on it.

Anyway, I was visiting my tiny local library for the first time, searching for a book to check out, when I saw the blue spine peaking out from the shelf. Since I had already read the few classics they had in stock, and don’t really go for Harlequin romance, I took Alice Sebold home with me. Much to my surprise, I finished the book in a day’s time.

It wasn’t so much Sebold’s writing style, which is good but not spectacular, or even the tinges of mystery in the plot that captivated me. It was the raw human emotion that she so perfectly conveyed through each character. The characters felt real—both their positive qualities and their shortcomings. The pain, confusion, regret, and maybe even hope that they each felt in their own ways really impacted me.

The Lovely Bones is the story of a young girl who is raped and murdered in her neighborhood. She speaks to the reader from her version of heaven (it can be different for each person), and looks over her family as they unravel after the tragic event. Perhaps it had something to do with my already delicate state (I was home sick while reading) but the book managed to make me cry. More than once. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that, and the book snob in me would prefer to believe I am “above” sentimental plot devices, but to be honest—the book is just really sad.

I also liked the subtle message of hope that carries through the novel, without reading like a “Chicken Soup” book. The ending isn’t the overly hokey “I will survive” type, and still has a shade of melancholy, but seems to say that even through utter grief and personal devastation, life goes on.
Profile Image for Kim.
286 reviews791 followers
January 28, 2008
Wow. I'm surprised that there was so much animosity towards this book (from the reviews here on Good Reads). Even if I didn't like it, I don't think I'd find so much in it to HATE it. The approach is different, which some might call trite or some call imaginative. I think I just liked Susie. She spoke what was on her mind, the perspective was fresh and the subject wasn't typical. Maybe this was a product of hype? I hadn't heard of it until a few friends recommended it to me last week. It took me a few hours to read and I enjoyed it. I won't rave on it, but I appreciate a good story.
Profile Image for tee.
239 reviews244 followers
November 1, 2014
I was really disappointed with this book. The first half was easy enough to read and then unfortunately I started getting bored particularly when Sebold started rehashing the same old lines which was just frustrating after a while. However, if that was the only problem I had I wouldn't be complaining.

There were a bunch of unfeasible "random" coincidences such as Samuel and Lindsey pulling off the road in the rain, running to the abandoned shack then running all the way home only to ... find out at the conclusion that Ruth's dad owns the house. What about Hal, what was the point of Hal's character? To be Grandma's sidekick? I felt like there was no point to these side-line stories and superfluous characters.

I also would've liked to have seen some insight into the mother leaving and completely abandoning her family. So okay, I'm not the author and the author chose to not take that route but I think if you're going to include something as dramatic as that in the novel perhaps touch on it a little more. For me, it would've made it a juicier read. I didn't want know that she was working in a wine factory, I wanted to know what was going on in her head! I mean, she wandered back into the final pages, had a cup of tea with another random character, her son runs past because he has new drumset ... yikes.

I'm not a believer in heaven but am interested in other's perceptions of it. I found Sebold's ideas disappointing. School buildings? A few people dressed up as snowflakes at Christmas time? A very random connection with her Grandfather? To me, this novel felt like a good first draft and just really felt like it needed a good edit, or a heavy rewrite.

The ending was particularly irritating; falling to earth into a body to have sex with some guy who we didn't really care about ... for no reason? I was pretty confused because she'd watched her murderer stalk her sister hours (minutes?) beforehand and didn't use the opportunity on earth to confront her murderer, which is something I, and I presume many people, would've done. But okay, let's just accept that she's not that kind of person, the ending bothered me because the first half really did have promise but then Sebold threw me into an unexpected (and unwelcome) supernatural spin.

Great idea. Poor execution. Maybe that's what everyone got so carried away with. The idea was grand - so grand that they were blinded by the weakness of the actual plot. Further, I guess people find comfort in the idea of heaven. The fact that we mean so much to people that we'll continue having such a huge impact on them once we're gone, that we get to watch them from above after we're dead (voyeuristic much?).

All in all, if people love this book and it affects them, changes their life, their outlook, makes them feel warm and fuzzy, makes them tearful or full of rapture - that's a good thing. I'm just disappointed that such a top seller couldn't do that for me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Suyana.
5 reviews13 followers
November 4, 2007
"The Lovely Bones," had me crying from start to finish. This book is extremely emotion packed. But this book was interestingly written because it's from the point of view from a girl who was murdered. The book starts like this: "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Already you want to read it; right? You follow the life that this young girl once had as she tells you about the memories she had, the things she learned, and the people she loved. Susie also talks about her "heaven." In her heaven, Susie does not let her family and friends go. She follows them through the years, watching her younger sister Lindsey does everything that she would have done if she was alive. Susie can't let her family go, and they see her everywhere; in the valley where she was killed; in her fathers work room. It makes you value your family when you read about the devastation they were left with. I especially was sympathetic for her father. Through out the book you can see how difficult it was for him to realize and begin to let go of the fact that his first born had been killed. It's hard to imagine losing a child, but from reading this book I’ve begun to realize that it's a kind of sorrow that can only be felt by a parent. If you are in the mood for reading a depressing story then this book is definitely for you.
The diction that Alice Sebold uses creates clear visuals in my head of what it was that Susie saw, and what she felt like being dead. You invision her family members and the environment that Susie had once been in. Another things that made me like this book so much was the fact that there were details that were used to help describe Susie that were also about me. A simple once was the fact that she was reading Othello in school. The use of details to develope the characters are very well done by Alice Sebold.
Profile Image for Patrick.
501 reviews112 followers
July 21, 2008
I have no idea how so many people can love such a boring, pointless book. I don't read a lot of juggernaut pop-fiction, but at least with "DaVinci Code" I can see the appeal; this one's draw baffles me. Besides being uninteresting, there are two plot points that were just rancid:

1. The mom suddenly deciding to return to her family when the dad has a heart attack.

2. Susie possesses Ruth's body so she can fuck the med student. So if you die a virgin, God lets you back on Earth for a few hours to bang someone with another person's genitals, putting them at risk for an STD or unwanted pregnancy? What if you die as a toddler, do you still get to come back and fuck someone? Also, she says she doesn't want to go after her murderer while in the host, that's real fucking nice, Susie, the whole book's about you wishing you hadn't died and the strain it put on your family, and you'd rather take a dick in a bathtub then stop him from raping/killing more children. That's great. And that whole idea was a rip-off of the movie "Ghost," remember? If you're gonna plagiarize from a Patrick Swayze movie, please make it "Roadhouse."

P.S. The real version of this book is called "Remember Me" by Christopher Pike which I read when I was ten.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for jv poore.
616 reviews212 followers
April 28, 2011
My feelings about The Lovely Bones are mixed. While I was reading it, I found it compelling and remarkably emotional; however, upon completion, I felt somewhat disappointed. It seemed that the wrap-up was too pat in some areas, and totally missing in others. Additionally, there were certain areas that were touched on, when I would have enjoyed more details. Overall, the storyline was original and intriguing. A good read, provided you don't mind crying sporadically throughout the entire book....until the end.
Profile Image for Mandy.
320 reviews331 followers
January 28, 2016
I remember reading this book and thinking, how great of a film it would be and then they made a movie! Both book and movie are wonderful and the movie did a fantastic job of sticking to Sebold's plot. This book also made me want to cling a little tighter to my daughters as we all fear for our children missing and or being sexually assaulted. Would recommend and keep tissues handy :)
Profile Image for S C Tisdale.
1 review9 followers
October 22, 2007
This is easily the worst book I've ever read in my entire life.

She comes back from heaven to bang the guy she liked.

If you like this book, then you hate literature. It's that simple. I'm not joking. Do not read this book.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 5 books487 followers
June 29, 2008
Reviewed by Cana Rensberger for TeensReadToo.com

THE LOVELY BONES will haunt you. This book tells the story of the most horrific thing a family could ever endure, the murder of a loved one, a child.

The child is 14-year-old Susie Salmon. We see the murder through her eyes, after she is killed. Susie narrates her story from heaven, a place like I'd not before imagined. Her heaven begins as her school playground. Slowly it grows to become more. Susie merely longs for something she misses from earth, and it appears, except, of course, the living. Although she can watch her loved ones, know what they are doing, thinking, and feeling, she cannot be with them, or they with her.

The book begins with the emotional, frightening, and vividly shown homicide. Through Susie's eyes, we understand how he tricked her. We feel her terror as we realize, with her, what's about to happen. Then the scene moves to another, equally heartbreaking moment, three days later when a neighbor's dog finds a body part.

You would think, at this point, that you wouldn't be able to read further, that you'd close the book and never reopen it. But you won't be able to. Like Susie, we want to know her family will be okay. We want to know the killer won't get away with it. The author, Alice Sebold, artfully forces you to read on.

Susie watches her friends whisper about her at school. She watches as her younger sister, Lindsey, hardens to stone. Her four-year-old brother, Buckley, is passed from neighbor to neighbor, having sleepovers, told his sister has just gone away for a bit. She listens to the detective, Len, tell her parents the inevitable, that they are now investigating her disappearance as a murder. Her family slowly begins to crumble and Susie can do nothing to help.

This sounds like a suffocating, depressing book, but as you read you'll feel encouraged as Susie's family begins to move on, never to forget, but to begin to live life without her. Buckley struggles to understand the meaning of forever. Susie's dad becomes obsessed with proving he's not crazy, that he's certain who killed his daughter. Susie's mom handles the stress by hiding from it. And Lindsey, known as the girl whose sister was murdered, strives to find herself again. She searches for love. And she takes a huge risk to help her dad flush out the killer.

The ending is incredibly sweet. Amazing as it may seem, you will feel Susie's joy as she lets go of those she's left behind. For me, the ending wasn't perfect, it left me wanting, but I imagine that was deliberate. Life itself is not perfect. But life has hope. And that's the feeling that will stay with you as you turn the last page. It's a memorable read, not for the faint of heart. Expect to feel. To fear, to cry, and, yes, to laugh. THE LOVELY BONES will touch the very core of your being. Alice Sebold has written beautifully of the ugliest scenario possible. Wow.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,255 followers
March 20, 2015
Well that wasn't a happy happy good time...

The Lovely Bones is going to be difficult to review without spoilers, so if you haven't read it yet I'm gonna have to go ahead and ask you to leave, m'kay?

Why am I not surprised to learn that Alice Sebold was raped at a young age? Because only someone who'd been through something as horrific as that would write a book like this. I'm not just talking about the subject matter, but rather the tone. Everything about this book is a victim's silent scream. Suzie, the dad, the surviving kids...it seems like everyone has someone taken from them. Maybe even the mom. I mean after all, the life she wished to lead was raped from her after she had the chance to lead it.

Honestly, I thought this was going to be even more depressing than it turned out to be. There's an unexpected hopeful strain through out, a nice pairing with some of Sebold's better writing.

On the other hand, some of her writing is irritating. Most notably were the many instances in which she attempts to utilize suspense writer techniques. As readers we are expecting a divulgence of information regarding the focal murder of the story. So, it's a big old tease when Sebold abruptly states "I saw him." Many times out of the blue she starts a new paragraph or section with just such a line and then goes on to talk about the family dog or some other nonsense. It's bullshit.

Overall though, this isn't bad. At times I enjoyed this look (maybe not the POV from which the story's told) at the after affects of a young girl's mysterious murder. The grieving period for family and friends, and the various paths each of them takes, is portrayed with authenticity. Some grieve harder than others. This isn't a murder mystery, this is real life. It's not always interesting or entertaining. Sometimes it's just sad and thought provoking.

So yes, I did like The Lovely Bones, but as for my tepid 3-star rating, all I can say is, Oprah lied. She told millions to read this and their perseverance upon that endeavor eventually got me to do the same. I read it. I was not Oprah-amazed. Why blame her? Because if she hadn't kicked it all off with her recommendation, I never would've read this. It's just not in my wheelhouse. Thus, I never would've had the opportunity to give this a lower rating. So, if you feel 3 stars is too low, blame Oprah.
Profile Image for Debbie W..
760 reviews566 followers
November 23, 2019
From the first sentence, I was hooked! Told by a young girl who was abducted and murdered by a neighbour, I really had a hard time putting this book down. I would stay up until 2:00 in the morning, Kleenex in hand, intrigued as to what would happen next. One of my favourite books! Highly recommend!
2 reviews
May 6, 2008
Alice Sebold
The Lovely Bones
New York: Little Brown & Company, 2002
329 pp. 21.95

Susie Salmon, a young girl murdered at fourteen, sits in her heaven as she watches her family grieve, suffer and fall apart without her. Susie follows the lives of her family and friends as they struggle to cope with the aftermath of her death. In watching her family on Earth, Susie’s journey to understanding the life she was robbed of becomes the central idea in the extraordinary novel “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold. “The Lovely Bones” evokes joy and sorrow in its reader, making the whole reading experience worthwhile.
Alice Sebold delivers originality in her novel by creating a heart-warming story told from the fresh point of view of a young girl in heaven. The novel begins with the protagonist, Susie Salmon, already in heaven. Most novels do not start by introducing a central character that is deceased before the story unfolds, but “The Lovely Bones” begins with the main character saying, “My name was Susie Salmon […] I was fourteen when I was murdered […]” (Sebold 1). The most interesting aspect of the novel is the point of view from which the story is told. The point of view also plays a significant role in the novel. Even though the main character, Susie, is dead, she still manages to evolve throughout the novel, therefore being dynamic. As Susie watches her family from heaven, she matures with them and experiences life by observing. The idea that life continues after death is the central theme of the novel. After the protagonist dies, she manages to stay in touch with her family by appearing at certain moments, almost like a ghost. Susie lets her family and friends know that the dead are here “All the time. You can talk to us and think about us” (Sebold 309). A connection between the living and the dead is established throughout the novel, which ties into the central theme. Eventually, through this connection, Susie and her family gain a better understanding of the love, life, and unfortunate circumstances that often tie people together in the world.
Apart from the viewpoint, Sebold’s writing style adds to the fresh appeal of the novel by contributing vivid descriptions of the setting and characters. In the novel, heaven is said to be different for each character. Susie and other deceased people “Had been given, in our heavens, our simplest dreams. There were no teachers in the school. Our textbooks were Seventeen and Glamour and Vogue” (Sebold 18). Sebold depicts heaven as a young child would depict a colorful candy store. Because Susie is only fourteen when she dies, the novel uses language and ideas that most teenagers would use. However, as the novel progresses, Susie’s thoughts and opinions seem to mature, almost like those of her family and friends on Earth. Just as she would have on Earth, Susie learns that life must continue, even when it seems as if it is the end of the world.
“The Lovely Bones” offers a new outlook on life, death and the journey in between. It sheds new light on the importance of family and the magnitude of love by focusing on a road to recovery after tragedy occurs. The novel leaves the reader feeling as if they have gained insight, but it also leaves the reader feeling empty once there are no more pages left to turn. Alice Sebold demonstrates originality by seamlessly connecting the living and the dead in her rightfully acclaimed novel. “The Lovely Bones” gives reason to believe that life does not have to end when death takes hold.
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