The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder -- a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family's need for peace and closure.
The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.
Sebold creates a heaven that's calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive -- and then some. But Susie isn't ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature.
Susie's life was ended in a hole in the ground in the middle of a cornfield. Typically I cringe when bad stuff happens in books. It's really easy to cringe and keep reading hoping that it gets better. There was something about this first chapter in The Lovely Bones that made me pause and cringe a lot. I had to process what I was reading, step back for a second and just kind of hope that the chapter was a quick one. I don't mean this in the way that it was a bad first chapter but that the way it was written felt way, way to real for me. Vivid in the sense that I'm never going to forget the characters in this book and that first chapter. It will stick with me and it will remind me that you can't be so trusting with people, even people you kind of know.
It's going to be really hard for me to talk about this book because it's written in a way that makes it really hard to talk about afterwards. I loved the way it was narrated but to talk about how it was narrated is difficult for me. As far as main characters go I really enjoyed Susie's voice. From the opening sentence I liked Susie. She doesn't beat around the bush, she tells it how it is and to be able to read about her life before and after the horror was really interesting for me. Considering she is killed at an age where she's just starting to really live life she isn't very jealous or bitter about those who are still living. Yeah, she's angry and she wants her killer found but she doesn't let that anger take over ever. She just looks after those she loves while anxiously waiting for her killer to get what he deserves.
The heaven that Alice Sebold has created was interesting to me. A part of me thought it would be more present in the book but Susie is so focused on watching her family that the glimpse we get of her heaven isn't all that much.
There are so many characters in this book. Susie watches a lot of people. And everyone she watches I grew to like. Her killer being the exception. I haven't ever loathed a character as much I loathed the one who killed Susie. You learn quick who kills her and that is something that I did like about this book. It wasn't a mystery who killed her but it was about watching how someone like her killer can go on living after the murder and how her family goes on living without her.
Susie's family was complex and each family member handled their grief differently. I loved her family and I especially loved Lindsay and Buckley. I understood why the mom did a lot of the things she did and I understood why the dad couldn't let go despite knowing the details he just couldn't let go.
Something I will say about this book is the ending wasn't what I expected and it left me a little bit disappointed with how things turned out with one specific character. I can't hate the way it ended for that character though because it was written realistically. Personally I just feel that the character did not get what was deserved and I can't explain without totally screwing up the ending for everyone. Just know, to me it was to easy of a conclusion for said character.
All and all this was a solid read for me. It kept me engrossed and it's written in a really honest way that often makes you cringe and think about things, but also in a way that is just really good. The Lovely Bones is getting 4.5 out of 5 birds from me! I enjoyed this and am really curious about the other books written by this author. I will say if you are going into this book expecting it to be like the movie it is very different but in a good way. It made it really easy to keep the movie and the book as two separate things.