The Lovely Bones Hardcover – Jul 3 2002
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On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon ("like the fish") is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer--the man she knew as her neighbor, Mr. Harvey.
Alice Sebold's haunting and heartbreaking debut novel, The Lovely Bones, unfolds from heaven, where "life is a perpetual yesterday" and where Susie narrates and keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case. As Sebold fashions it, everyone has his or her own version of heaven. Susie's resembles the athletic fields and landscape of a suburban high school: a heaven of her "simplest dreams," where "there were no teachers.... We never had to go inside except for art class.... The boys did not pinch our backsides or tell us we smelled; our textbooks were Seventeen and Glamour and Vogue."
The Lovely Bones works as an odd yet affecting coming-of-age story. Susie struggles to accept her death while still clinging to the edge of the living, always attached to her lost world, following her family's dramas over the years as if watching an episode of My So-Called Afterlife. Her family disintegrates in their grief: her father becomes determined to find her killer, her mother withdraws, her little brother Buckley attempts to make sense of the new hole in his family, and her younger sister Lindsey moves through the milestone events of her teenage and young adult years with Susie riding spiritual shotgun. Random acts and missed opportunities run throughout the book--Susie recalls her sole kiss with a boy on Earth as "like an accident--a beautiful gasoline rainbow." Though sentimental at times, The Lovely Bones is a moving exploration of loss and mourning that ultimately puts its faith in the living and that is made even more powerful by a cast of convincing characters. Sebold orchestrates a big finish, and though things tend to wrap up a little too well for everyone in the end, one can only imagine (or hope) that heaven is indeed a place filled with such happy endings. --Brad Thomas Parsons
From Publishers Weekly
Sebold's first novel after her memoir, Lucky is a small but far from minor miracle. Sebold has taken a grim, media-exploited subject and fashioned from it a story that is both tragic and full of light and grace. The novel begins swiftly. In the second sentence, Sebold's narrator, Susie Salmon, announces, "I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Susie is taking a shortcut through a cornfield when a neighbor lures her to his hideaway. The description of the crime is chilling, but never vulgar, and Sebold maintains this delicate balance between homely and horrid as she depicts the progress of grief for Susie's family and friends. She captures the odd alliances forged and the relationships ruined: the shattered father who buries his sadness trying to gather evidence, the mother who escapes "her ruined heart, in merciful adultery." At the same time, Sebold brings to life an entire suburban community, from the mortician's son to the handsome biker dropout who quietly helps investigate Susie's murder. Much as this novel is about "the lovely bones" growing around Susie's absence, it is also full of suspense and written in lithe, resilient prose that by itself delights. Sebold's most dazzling stroke, among many bold ones, is to narrate the story from Susie's heaven (a place where wishing is having), providing the warmth of a first-person narration and the freedom of an omniscient one. It might be this that gives Sebold's novel its special flavor, for in Susie's every observation and memory of the smell of skunk or the touch of spider webs is the reminder that life is sweet and funny and surprising.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
i got this book for Christmas and was done before the new year.. it was graphic and intense and really sad.. but a great readPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
It was sad...but an awesome read. Great book. The movie was terrible in comparison.
This book is soooooooo much more i depth and better than the film. Highly reconmend it.
I was intrigued by the story from the first chapter and I thought that it was a really creative and original way to talk about taboo subjects such as death, murder and rape. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
This was a good read, but not worthy of the hype, in my humble opinion. From reading other reviews, I guess my expectations were set a little high. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Prairie Chick
The author wrote about the murder of the young girl as if it were a fantasy, then later romanticized teen sex and possession to have more teen sex.Published 16 months ago by Anna