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The Lovely Bones Hardcover – Jul 3 2002

3.9 out of 5 stars 2,276 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 3 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316666343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316666343
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 3.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 717 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 2,276 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #254,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is real, violent, vivid and raw. Alice doesnt sugarcoat her rape and the effect it had on her life. She doesnt try and diminish her feelings of anger, her need for revenge and the devastation she felt for many years after her assault. I like how the author didnt try and make herself or her family seem perfect; she acknowledged the reality that we are all flawed and try out best in life.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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