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on March 9, 2006
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold is a unique tale of a young girl's journey through the afterlife. Susie Salmon is a fourteen-year-old girl struggling to understand her seemingly horrible fate from heaven as life continues moving without her. As she embarks on this strange journey, Susie cannot help but watch her loved ones she has left behind to pick up the pieces. The Lovely Bones is an extraordinary piece that exemplifies the theory that there truly is life after death, far beyond the mere idea of where we go when we die. Sebold's strength as a writer makes for a unique and refreshing tale of an otherwise tragic event the novel has some, but few weaknesses. As a whole, I think this is a wonderful novel and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quality, meaningful read. I've read it twice and each time been moved to tears multiple times during the novel. I think Sebold does an amazing job defining what family means. The way she deals with the topic of death is so obscure it's like nothing I've ever read. I really was intrigued by the way she depicted heaven as so much more than clouds and angels. It's a book that not only presents a situation, but leaves room for the reader to connect the dots themselves. For another completely different read (funny and enlightening though NOTHING like "Bones") try McCrae's "Katzenjammer." Very well done.
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on October 10, 2002
Like her wonderful novel The Lovely Bones - which I've also reviewed and which you must read - Lucky is a harrowing, heart-wrenching book about the worst possible thing that can happen to a woman. Alice Sebold tells the raw story of her rape ordeal and her subsequent struggle for recovery with an honesty and warmth which is compelling. Lucky reads almost like a novel itself at times, with gripping moments of suspense, particularly during the court trial scenes.
Alice Sebold was the innocent victim of an unforgivable crime - but she doesn't ask for our sympathy or pity in these beautifully written pages. She earns our respect and admiration for the courageous way she tells how the traumatic events changed and shaped her life; how the naive college student would eventually become a hardened, determined aggressor herself in her brave fight for justice against her attacker. Sadly, this natural reaction to her personal violation came with a price - destructive behavioural damage that brought a later downward spiral into drugs. What the author didn't know at the time is that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; an anxiety syndrome that emerges following a psychologically distressing traumatic event such as rape, which she battles to overcome.
Can someone really, truly, get over something so savage and brutal as rape is the numbing thought you're left with long after you put the book aside? The past can never be forgotten, but Alice Sebold has managed to crawl from the wreckage and move on with her life to a happier future that has brought her international fame and acclaim. That says something about the human spirit - and everything about this remarkable woman.
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on June 28, 2005
Straight away, let me mention that I also read The Lovely Bones; my opinion of that book was that it was contrived; after the first 60 pages it didn't really work for me.
Now this book: Very Impressive! This is a tough story to tell and the author did a great job. The voice is authentic and the details make it real, and I learned alot: i.e. how men accused of rape usually beat the rap. (I didn't know this; thought in fact the opposite was true!) Hang on through the entire book. The beginning is violent and intense -- and you may want to turn away or put it down -- don't! Keep reading. You heart will go out to this young woman, as my heart did. Keep reading, even through the later sections, the trial which, for me, was toughest part because it almost reads like a court transcription.
Now the kicker. Right when you think the book is over and you think the protagonist (or the author) is a "winner" -- pow! -- flashforward to the East Village years later. Here you'll see how although she managed to convict her rapist, she hasn't managed to put the entire event behind her. This is not a Hollywood ending. The protagonist/author experiences an aftershock of fear and self-loathing that she is unable to control, that pursues her even into another city, even years later; she can't seem to escape it. This epilogue is what really made me love this book. Life goes on, yes -- but misfortune sometimes takes a huge chunk of our spirit. And yet you must still go on! This book is a tribute to a true survivor, a book about real life; it now has a permanent place in my library. I recommend it strongly for those of you not afraid of entering the darkness, even for a moment; sometimes you need to enter the darkness in order to appreciate the light. I feel as if this book will stay with me a long time -- now that's great art! Along with this memoir, another book I'd like to recommend -- a much lighter, funnier book ('cause we all need to laugh too, my God) -- is The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez. Quite sweet and haunting, too; a comedy with a soul.
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on April 18, 2004
I found this book to be rather disturbing and emotional to the point that I would put it down only to pick it up again based on the fact that so many of my friends found it a good read. I admit that the idea of a young girl narrating from her idea of what Heaven is was a good one. Watching her family and the trials they go through after her murder was a different way to show us how death effects different people. With that said I must admit that I had a hard time caring how Mom, sister Lindsay, and the rest of the motley crew felt or how the death of susie affected the different characters in the end. Susie's mom was probably the most unlikeable character in my opinion, and I wanted to like her since I am also a mother and could not imagine for one second how I would feel if one of my children was taken from me in such a violent way. The way she just shut down on everyone (including her two other children) and turned to the police detective was in my opinion what turned me off to her.
Still I continued to read this book only to be totally let down by the ending. I hope my next read by this author is not such a let down.
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on June 2, 2005
Any reader lucky enough to peruse THE LOVELY BONES will know how fortunate they are to be in on the early stages of what appears to be a super talent. The creative story line is deftly handled so that the audience can follow how various key players, especially the Salmon family insuring Susie, cope or not with their loss. Alice Sebold provides a tremendous character driven tale that though melancholy yet optimist makes reading a heaven on earth. For anyone who has lost a loved one, LOVELY BONES gives hope, closure and healing. The aching question of "where are you?" is dealt with compassionately but without heavy religious overtones. You won't find harp plucking angels or a benevolent Father sitting on a throne. Instead a lively fourteen year old who violently leaves the earth, is most interested in keeping tabs on her family and friends. They continue to grow, she stays fourteen. They face painful obstacles she is powerless to change, and yet... It is a very worthwhile read. I only wish I hadn't finished it so quickly. This is a book to savor and Sebold's prose is lyrical. One wants to reread and write lines down. The only other book that I liked this much was BARK OF THE DOGWOOD with its quirky characters, thought-provoking ideas, humor, and decadence.
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on August 22, 2002
Captivated by critical praise and a supernatural plot, I was a bit skeptical that any book could live up to its structural and pop culture status. "The Lovely Bones" met and exceeded all of my expectations and then some. Sebold brings forth a spectrum of emotions that are both difficult to express and yet thrilling to any reader who's experienced sheer joy from the written page. Our heroine, a heaven-bound adolescent is ripped away(literally and figuratively) from earth and its bounty of family, friends and real life pleasures. Looking down from above, with newfound wisdom and more than a few regrets, the narrator steers us through a web of self-dicovery, within her self, her family, and even, within us - her audience. Sebold manages to weave a bold mosaic of sorrow and joy, disaster and bliss, with words that simply take your breath away so that you find yourself re-reading passages just to be enveloped in their magical truth again and again. This is simple yet important prose...at once whimsical and deep. It's the sort of book that makes you think twice about the choices we have, the ones we make, and the ones we might later regret not choosing.
My only wish is that Hollywood leave this novel alone and refrain from attempting to replicate its sincere qualities on-screen. No screenplay, or director, or acting ensemble could supplant the power of "the Bones'" narrative. Destined to become a perennial favorite, the "Lovely Bones" is best left to the senses and the imagination that captivates readers in unique, individual ways. Buy it, share it, cherish it!
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on November 4, 2004
The Truth shall set you free in this tell all honest look into the life in a terrible enviroment, the enviroment inside of a mind that has been physically and mentally abused.. The book delves into the pain that she had to live through similar to that of the reality based/courageous 'NIGHTMARES ECHO',has poignant,at times a bit of humor like that of 'RUNNING WITH SCISSORS', and a bit sorrowful like that of 'BEAUTY FOR ASHES'. No matter what comparrison you make....'Lucky' is an exceptional look at abuse..........and as I have seen from the prior books I have read, abuse comes in many forms and scars what it touches!
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on March 20, 2007
It's rare to come across a book that I like as much as this one. Well, liked is probably not the right word since there are passages that deeply disturb, but then, that's what great literature does, I suppose.

The writing, the voice, is crystal clear, and this is one of the things that I enjoyed best about this insightful yet sometimes hard to take yarn. LUCKY will undoubtedly shock many--as it should. After all, it is about rape. As in her LOVELY BONES, Seabold pulls no punches, yet the work is not over the top, rather it is well crafted with pacing that allows the reader to take in what she has to say without being overwhelmed emotionally. Sebold describes for us, in great detail, the trial, the aftermath, and the emotional devestation she feels. This is no small book emotionally, the same way some other great reads are, and it takes someone with fortitude to get through it, especially if you're a woman. I would also recommend another great read that I recently came across titled "Bark of the Dogwood" for those interested in reading about individuals overcoming adversity.
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on November 30, 2003
If you want to read a poorly organized book with stock characters, and dangling story lines, then this is the book for you!
I had the opportunity to read this book with my book club, and we all agreed it was poorly written. The characters are one-dimensional and not credible. I understand that the story is quite fantastic and incredible, but that does not mean the characters should be so unbelievable. I didn't find any of the characters "real", not Ruth, Lindsey or Samuel... to name a few! I am sure this is not the way real people act, even when placed in such an awful situation of a young girl's murder.
There were "dangling elements" in the story that the author never tied up and finished properly. It was as though she wasn't entirely sure how to end the book so she left all kinds of story lines open. This is indeed the sign of a poorly written book! Why did Ruth start out liking girls? Then all of a sudden she didn't? Why did Ruana say she would "start with Ruth..."? These are only a few of the many questions I have.
From a forensics, and crime investigation point of view, this book also falls short. I do understand that the book starts out in the 1970's, but I still think that a criminal investigation conducted then would have been much more thorough. I mean, the murderer lived right in the neighborhood of the girl - I would think the police would have at least investigated close to home.
Lastly, although the book struggles along the whole way, with choppy bits, and pointless story lines not contributing to anything in the end, there is a major event that happens in the end (I won't give the end away!) that is just too much! This is a very poor ending! If Susie Salmon was in heaven, and she didn't really have any relationships or challenges to overcome, how is it that she was able to mature and evolve? You could point out an endless list of impossibilities like this - and yes I understand that it is just the author's interpretation of heaven. It's just I really think you need people and situations to develop and grow as a human being, not just "fluffy" heaven that is like high school , and presents no opportunities for personal growth.
It was a very frustrating read overall, and I am desperately trying to get rid of my copy! Save your money for another book!
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on November 1, 2006
I would never have read this if it weren't for my bookclub. Having avoided it since it came out, I had very low expectations and so was surprised to be engrossed in the story - untill, about half-way through, it seemed to lose the plot and meandered around aimlessly, getting repetitive as it tried to wring emotion out of its characters, and me.

Susie Salmon is dead. She begins her story by describing how she is murdered, and her family's reaction. From her place in heaven, she can watch anyone she wants to, but apart from "touching" Ruth, a fellow 14-year-old student at her school, on her way out, she can't make her presence felt. Ruth becomes a little obsessed with Susie, and starts to see and feel dead people, keeping a record of them in her diary. Susie's mum uses her daughter's death as a trigger to leave her family and try to recapture her youth. She is constantly described as a woman who never wanted to be a mother. Susie's dad takes her death particularly bad, and focuses on his two other children, Lindsey and Buckley.

Susie watches from heaven as her family grows older, watches as Lindsey goes from first kiss to accepting a marriage proposal, watches her murderer, Mr Harvey, a serial killer who is [spoiler alert!] never caught, and, at the end of the book, possesses Ruth's body so she can lose her viginity to the only boy she ever kissed.

The Lovely Bones is fairly ambitious, and although it manages to keep from slipping into sentimental indulgence, it also lacks drive, and misses many opportunities to really delve into some interesting and important issues. Some devices were a bit cheesy, and seemed like avoidance. I guess I, like most people, would have been more satisfied if Mr Harvey had been caught, but that's not necessarily realistic either. The main reason why I struggled to finish it and why I give it only 3 stars is that the second half has nowhere to go, it loses its immediacy as the years go by and people start moving on, letting go of Susie, whose body was never found either. The characters started to annoy me - I wanted to be sympathetic, even of the mother, who, in a way, has the hardest time of all, but they began to get cliched.

That said, there are some nice descriptions, Susie's voice is apt, there's a great sense of time (she's killed in the 70s) without being too obvious, and even if you only read the first half, it's well written and gripping before it becomes tedious.
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