The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Book Review: The Lovely Bones By Alice Sebold

Murders and crime are continuously happening everyday. Countless criminals are caught and locked up; however, this isn’t the case for Susie Salmon. In the book, The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold talks about life after death from Susie’s point of view.

The author, Alice Sebold, was a victim for rape when she was only eighteen and was a starting freshman at Syracuse University. Police told her that she was lucky to have survived, but the other girl, who was in the same situation months before, wasn’t as lucky. Lucky is Alice’s first book that expressed her experience of being raped. She was a writer and only began to accept who she was through writing about her life. Her second book, The Lovely Bones, was formed around the subject of that other girl’s murder. Both books complement one another. The first book giving off a horror and sadness story line while The Lovely Bones gives off a sense of magic and a more positive appeal to which Susie explores Heaven and Earth as a ghost.

The beginning of the story is shocking as it is strong, detailing Susie’s last moments of her life before everything goes black. Susie is a fourteen-year-old girl who lives in a small town during the 1960s. Neither Susie nor anyone knew how dangerous walking home from an ordinary school day would be on that winter afternoon upon meeting Mr. Harvey. Mr. Harvey, the strange neighbor, was indeed strange. His professional skills for killing girls and hiding the evidence left Detective Len and the police with no leads. Susie’s case was left unsolved for years as her family and friends change dramatically due to her death.
In Heaven, Susie is able to get whatever she wants if she desires hard enough for it, but they are all inanimate objects. She cannot change the fact that she is dead, and her murderer is alive. Watching from above, she can clearly see the effect of her death in everyone close to her. Susie relives her life through watching her sister Lindsey starting from their first Christmas without her when “[she] saw Lindsey move towards Samuel Heckler. [Lindsey] kissed him… [Susie] was almost alive again” (71). Just like any other teenage girl, Susie got almost as excited as her sister when Lindsey and Samuel’s relationship grew closer. Susie’s death even tore her dad apart; he was positive that Mr. Harvey had something to do with her murder; “a father’s suspicion…is as powerful as a mother’s intuition” (87). Her dad was right but had no proof, and even Ruana, Ray’s mother, told him that “when [he] was sure, [he] would find a quiet way, and [he] would kill [Mr. Harvey]” (88).

The writing style of this book is very simple yet intriguing. With two effortless words to say such as thank you, the way Susie’s dad said “it was like rock perched in his throat” (55). This gives the reader a sense of the characters’ feelings; they also connect and relate to the characters better. One theme includes how wanting something badly, doesn’t mean it’ll happen, but something else unexpectedly may happen and result in more happiness than one would imagined. Susie’s desire for Mr. Harvey’s death is strong but there may lie something even stronger that she may not realize yet that she wants.

The Lovely Bones is a very enjoyable book to read. Every page is packed full of anticipation and there are no such thing as boring parts. This recommendable book mixes truth and fantasy together along with an ending that is thought to be obvious but with a twist. Does Susie’s family stay as one or fall apart and will Mr. Harvey be found and charged with crime – all this remains a mystery until you turn to the first page.





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