12.14–The Lovely Bones

Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones is exactly what the title may suggest–lovely. A story of a family ravaged by the emotions resulting from the murder of their eldest daughter, it is told by the deceased girl, Susie Salmon.  Susie’s account of her murder and the events immediately preceding it are horrific, it’s true, and have the potential to be off-putting. Yet the novel that follows these morbid events is touching in a way that only the most heartbreakingly truthful accounts of life can be. Sebold writes fiction, but she captures the reality of life in every paragraph.

Susie looks down on her family from “her” heaven. Sebold has created a reality where each person who dies has their own heaven. These heavens occasionally overlap, when the deceased’s interest aligns with another’s. Susie has friends in heaven, and her dog even joins her there when he dies.  But her heaven also allows her to watch the goings-on of Earth, and Susie tells not just her story, but those of the people she was forced to leave behind. What she describes (with a certain detachment) is a sorrowful tale of grief, anger, betrayal, and frustration.  The gaping hole she leaves in the family widens until her parents relationship is in tatters, her elder sister drifts away emotionally, and her young brother is bubbling with anger. She makes somewhat half-hearted attempts (or so it seems to me) to contact her father and alert him to her murderer. Her feeble grasping at the world of the living sometimes manages to break through, and her father is able to receive enough to figure out who her killer is.  Though this revelation and subsequent hunt add an element of suspense to the novel, it is by no means the main focus of the novel.

It is difficult to read at times. Sometimes I wonder why it’s so appealing to read something as sad as this novel. Perhaps it is for the hope of a happy ending despite all. Or perhaps it is because we can be grateful that their sorrows are not ours. Sebold’s story is harrowing and grisly at times, but touching and beautifully written. Susie’s voice contains both the sweet innocence of childhood and the wisdom of one with the ability to see more than humans, and reading her account of events is a pleasure. The book was a bestseller without being fluffy and brainless, and I really admire both the author and the characters she created.  I highly recommend this book to anyone.

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6 thoughts on “12.14–The Lovely Bones

  1. Rose says:

    I read this book a while ago, and it had a profound impact on me. I have been meaning to read it again for ages. Thank you for reminding me of its existence.

  2. I know what you mean- I often read sad books and the wonder why I put myself through it!

    I am a new follower 🙂 My blog: http://www.pocketfulofbooks.com/2012/07/follow-friday.html

  3. Michelle L. says:

    I came buy from the Feature and Follow Friday link list, but can’t find your friday post, I see no links to other post ect. Well, wanted to mention I am a new follower, in my reader, as I do not see a network blog, or linky button. Well, here is my Friday post if you want to come by
    Follow Friday Hop

  4. Stepping Out of the Page says:

    Great, honest review. I really enjoyed this book, though enjoy isn’t the right word I guess – I appreciated the writing and the story. I also found it quite sad and it certainly had some disturbing elements. Fantastic post.

    New to your blog!
    Steph @ Stepping Out Of The Page
    P.S. I also have an International Giveaway on at the moment!

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