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The Lovely Bones
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Rory Book Discussions > The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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message 1: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Our March read is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

I have heard good and bad things about the book. What do you think about it?

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I bought it today. Will probably start reading it some point this week. Anyone currently reading this?

Christian | 1 comments I just finished reading this book today and I liked it a lot. It goes without saying that it's an incredibly sad and emotive subject matter, and while I fortunately haven't experienced anything so terrible, I felt at times as if I could almost understand. I didn’t find myself relating to any of the characters particularly, but that didn’t matter as they were all well developed and I found myself caring about the lives of each of them the entire way through the book, which is always a good thing.

I also loved the unusual point of view Susie is able to give us, enabling insight into not just how she feels about her family and friends (and they about her), but also how she feels about what they feel about her.

I’ve heard some people complain about the flow of the novel, that the story jumps from point to point, person to person, and that it detracts from the overall story. Personally I thought that there were indeed some points where the book skipped a lot of time or cut short parts I would have liked to have been longer, and I found a few times that I had to re-read passages over again to realise that it was a flashback. However, in order to fit so many characters and their paths through life into the book, I think it was a good way of doing it, and while it wasn’t perfect, it didn’t really irritate me much at all. To an extent I feel that it was a reflection of the way Susie was experiencing so much of everyone’s lives.

Anyway, I’m very interested in what others think about this book!

Nikoline (annenikoline) I read this a few months ago, and there where parts of if that really pleased me, but overall I was not pleased with the book.

Antje | 10 comments I also read this a while ago and didn't leave a distinct impression on me. I really liked the beginning, the unusual point of view was a great idea, that sets it apart from other novels like this. But as it became less of a murder mystery and more of a family drama, it became less interesting too me. Not because I don't like that genre, but I think in that genre it doesn't particularly stand out as a great book. Sebold does have a knack for portraying interesting characters and how they connect with each other and sometimes her prose can be really beautiful, but other times I didn't like her writing style that much. What I really thought the book could have done without is the description of Susie's heaven.

Tracy Parker I agree Antje, the description of heaven seemed out of place and honestly, just plain stupid. I agree the beginning was better. I have seen the movie (of course I had to read the book first) and the moview was no better even with Marky Mark in it! LOL

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

OK so I started reading it today and so far I'm liking it a lot. I'm not sure if I like the description of heaven, though. But we'll see what it turns out like in the end. Anyone else currently reading this??

Sayra (diesayra) | 4 comments I'm also reading it just now, am about half way through. I really like it, its pace, the voice of Susie telling us about everything from heaven. I don't think one has to agree that this is what heaven is like, but still like the story.
It's funny cause it's definetly not a book I would have picked if it wouldn't have been on the Rory list - and for the most part they are all fun to read - even though I had some trouble with some of the classics Rory read (Anna Karenina took me forever and it was really dragging in parts, Gogol I simply had to give up)
I wonder why people either seem to love or hate this book - guessing it's because of the heavy topic - any other guesses?

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Sayra, I agree with you. Maybe we don't have to agree with the author's version of heaven. After all, it's Susie's world, we get the chance to know her better, I guess. And maybe some people don't like it because the story's just really sad and quite depressing. I don't know. I like this book though. I find it really easy to follow.

message 10: by Brooke (last edited Mar 18, 2012 04:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brooke | 10 comments I read The book at the end last year, and I really liked it. I liked the way the story was told from Susie's point of view and I liked how the story showed how Susie's death affected her family and friends. Once I started to read it I could not put it down until I was done.

Devin | 15 comments ** spoiler alert ** When I begin a new book I absolutely hate to read reviews first. I always feel that I will somehow conform the book to meet the standards (whether negative or positive) that I have. As I was adding "The Lovely Bones" to my read list on GoodReads, however, I could not help, but notice the multitude of one/two star reviews at the bottom of the page. Trying hard to ignore their comments I was determined that I was going to enjoy it - and I did...for the first half of the novel. As I r...moreWhen I begin a new book I absolutely hate to read reviews first. I always feel that I will somehow conform the book to meet the standards (whether negative or positive) that I have. As I was adding "The Lovely Bones" to my read list on GoodReads, however, I could not help, but notice the multitude of one/two star reviews at the bottom of the page. Trying hard to ignore their comments I was determined that I was going to enjoy it - and I did...for the first half of the novel. As I read Susie Salmon's story from her unique point of view I couldn't understand why anyone would violently rant about its shortcomings. At the half-way point, however, the book began to drag. Time passed in the book and I kind of stopped caring about everyone in the story. The characters felt a little stereotyped, but I think that I could have overlooked this flaws if it had not been for Susie's return to Earth. Once she falls back to Earth, and possesses Ruth's body to have sex with her true love, I completely lost interest. I am sure that the author must have had a point for including this section in the narrative, but it was just plain weird. Why did she not visit her sister, Lindsay? Why did she not tell the police about her killer? It just seemed awkward.

Also - Harvey's death felt like a sidenote. The author seemed as if she was struggling to finish the story and simply wrapped up the end in a nice little bow. Because of the realism of the beginning of the story (aside from the random return to Earth), the end was pretty disappointed. On Harvey's death, I felt that Sebold was trying to make a connection to the icicles in the perfect murder game, but I was not sure if this was on purpose. Was she trying to say that Susie did get her revenge? If she was trying to connect the icicles in each scenario I wish that Sebold would have made the connection more distinct

Sayra (diesayra) | 4 comments Devin wrote: "** spoiler alert ** When I begin a new book I absolutely hate to read reviews first. I always feel that I will somehow conform the book to meet the standards (whether negative or positive) that I h..."

I totally agree with you, Devin, both critiques you make, were the exact things i didn't like so much about the book...and I do think the icicles were supposed to mean something...even though I thought it would have been much more gratifying if Harvey would have been put on trial

Karlee | 1 comments I should lead off by saying that this is one of my favorite books. I love the idea that heaven or at least "the inbetween" is exactly what you make it to be. The concept and perspective are epic-ly unique and just plain cool. But I agree that the ending seems rushed.

The icicles DO mean something. When Susie's sister goes to camp their big project is to plan the perfect murder, her weapon is a icicle.

I've heard people criticize the beginning of the book, calling it too real in its depictions of Susie's rape. It is so real because Alice Sebold herself was raped. I think it takes a heck of a lot of courage to take the worst thing that happened to you, make it worse and then turn it in to the beginning of a beautiful story about the loss of a child.

It's been a long time since I read The Lovely Bones this discussion made me want to go back and re-read it so Thank you for that.

message 14: by Doreen (last edited Apr 06, 2012 05:03AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Doreen | 11 comments So it's April already, but I also finally managed to finish with the March read. Not really sure how I feel about this book, though.

I was glued to the book, once I picked it up. I agree with you, Karlee, the concept and perspective are unique. I think that was what made the first third or so of the book so interesting to me - but I lost interest halfway through. I just couldn't seem to figure out where the story was heading... Sebold giving glimpses on part of the characters lives connected here and there... I didn't find it hard to follow, the flashbacks didn't irritate me either, but I did find it hard to keep on reading at times. Perhaps this is exactly what was intended - to give the reader the feeling of how Susie's death affected the ones she left behind, how they get caught up in their own worlds... I guess Susie as the narrator was supposed to be the link holding everything together, perhaps the person the reader can identify with - but how do you identify with a dead girl? It just didn't work for me.

Most parts of the book I thought were an ok read, I did love the beginning (for its unique perspective)- but I didn't like the ending at all. Like Devin, I felt it was rushed and I really disliked Susie's falling back on earth. I just didn't get the point of her return and felt it didn't fit in the story.

message 15: by Danna (last edited May 23, 2012 08:52AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Danna I am a newbie... But I did read THE LOVELY BONES.
I did not like it as much as I thought I would. The idea of heaven and after-death experiences of a teenage girl sounded totally gripping and nice!
However, there is a little issue here: I loved the first 100 pages of the book, they were marvelous! The writing was beautiful, in my opinion, and the POV was just so much fun to read. I completely changed my whole perspective on death. It does no mean that I am now a believer of in-between and after-death life and that idea of heaven - I am far from that. But, for it was the first book I have read that actually concerned death, at its most natural form - it did change the way I think of death today. I find some hope in that thought and I understand that there are a lot of different, extremely interesting ways to look at death, for it is so far unknown to all of us who are currently among the living.
Despite that quite a great change of my way of thinking - the book itself, the plot, the characters - were not as surprising. The characters were built just fine - but the whole story... It felt as if I have to dig very very deep in the words the author threw at me in order to understand what was actually going on. You see, I have felt as if I am reading beyond a mask of dust. As if there was a story - but it was not released, was not imagined. I had to try and focus and sometimes read the chapters again, trying to understand what is going on. It was very confusing, and eventually it did affect my opinion of the book, obviously. In the end, it was nothing but an okay read. Not even your average read, since its main subject was not as common as it is today in literature. I shall point out the remarkable opening line! This was one of The most excellent opening lines I have ever read, truly! It was very gripping, and I truly wish the whole novel had been written that way as well, that way it could be much better. This novel was supposed to be a mysterious, surprising, heartbreaking, wonderful novel - but all its potential had been crushed. I suppose the reason for it was probably the fact that the plot was not built well. It was sort of flashbacks story, all focused on the past, and so: the novel did not succeed at bringing up its original message to the readers, which is: look up to the future and live your life the best way possible. Do whatever you want to do and fulfill your destiny. It did not quite work out, and I had to figure this message out awhile after I have finished the book. I assume the last line - I wish you long and happy life - is the only one which bears this message.
In the end, it was a 2/5 read for me.

Trace Lara Hentz (tracehentz) I read this book back in 2003 I believe - was asked at the airport by strangers what I thought - I was carrying it and lots of people commented. I could not put it down and it lingers even today. Great writing and plot - not sure I want to see the movie though.The Lovely Bones

Marie-pier | 51 comments 2/5 for me too.

Melissa (sweetmelissa111) | 20 comments May I quote Emily Gilmore? "Not my taste but I appreciate the effort."

I will forever admire Alice Sebold for her honest and brutally reflective memoir, Lucky. I think her own experiences informed this story quite a bit. The horror Susie experienced, the grief in the aftermath of Susie's death that wrecked her family, and even Susie's bittersweet afterlife were all things that I think Sebold could relate to and she made them very real for me as her reader. However, I don't think the woman is very good at ending a story. Lucky was a little messy toward the end and The Lovely Bones was wholly dissatisfying. I left it thinking, "Is that all there is?" I spent ten years with this family for this?

message 19: by Jana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jana (janibalharova) | 4 comments I may shock you but I didn't like this book at all. I find it terribly and poorly written. The truth is that I've read it in czech translation but when I asked other people they said that it is not very different from the original. The story might have been amazing, unfortunately the style of writing is just bad.

Marie-pier | 51 comments Jilly wrote: "I may shock you but I didn't like this book at all. I find it terribly and poorly written. The truth is that I've read it in czech translation but when I asked other people they said that it is not..."
Nope... the story sucks too (the ending of it anyway).

message 21: by Jana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jana (janibalharova) | 4 comments Marie-pier wrote: "Jilly wrote: "I may shock you but I didn't like this book at all. I find it terribly and poorly written. The truth is that I've read it in czech translation but when I asked other people they said ..."

I didn't like the ending either. But there were some parts that I actually liked a bit. I liked the idea to write this story from the view of the dead kid and the fact that it isn't about the kid but much more about the family and the way how they deal with it. But unfortunately it is really badly written and not only stylistically but also the way the story was handled is bad. So you are right. It sucks ;)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments I thought this was a book whose strength

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Lay in the discussion. Were you angry that Susie Salmon did stupid things? What would your version of heaven look like? What did you think of her parents' reactions and behavior?

message 24: by Leigh (last edited Jan 04, 2014 06:47PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leigh Ferguson (lafergs) | 1 comments For me, it was an absorbing read. Although, I read this book a long time ago, 2004 maybe or earlier. I'm one of those people that do not retain a lot of detailed information after reading a book, what stays with me is the feeling or essence of the writing. I remember liking the beginning and being dissatisfied with the ending. The movie was just "meh". What stayed with me was how much hard it was for her family to go on. They were moving around on autopilot, each lost in their own grief. Reminded me of something my grandpa always said "Being dead is easy, it's the living part that's hard."
Anyway, I liked the book enough to read Almost Moon as well.

LaDonna (ladonnasbooknook) I didn't care for this one much at all. I read it last summer; I had picked it up for $0.10 at a thrift store because I had heard a lot about it over the years. The best thing I can say about it is that it spared me the time/energy to see the movie because I can't imagine it could be worth the effort. I agree with others that the beginning of the book was much more interesting than the rest, but overall it just did not work for me. I found the entirety of her trip back to earth just wrong on every level. The ending did seem rushed and not thoroughly thought through. If I hadn't ceased caring about virtually every character I might have been disappointed in their actions, but I just wasn't invested enough to care. I just reread my review here of it, and I gave it more credit then than I do now, but not by much. I guess I will just never appreciate the masses definition of a good book. ;-)

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