"Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold

October 1, 2009

"Lovely Bones"
What do you get when you have a young teenage girl who has everything to live for, and whose life is viciously cut short by murder? You get suspense, excitement, sadness, revenge and hope all wrapped up in a dysfunctional family narrated by a dead teenager in heaven.
Alice Sebold’s book “Lovely Bones,” absolutely captivates the reader as she spins a bizarre tale of a 14 year old murdered girl who narrates from heaven. The murdered girl, Susie, looks down from heaven and watches her family and friends cope with her death. Eerily, she narrates in such a way as if she still has connections with the living. Alice Sebold creates a gripping tale while taking a daring risk as she pulls off a story narrated in a “Sixth Sense” type of way.
This book definitely had me a little twisted, as it was difficult for me to put it down and yet parts were so disturbing that I wanted to close it forever. On the whole, reading “Lovely Bones,” will make you feel as if it “was written for yourself alone” (U.S. News & World Report). While reading this novel, readers will notice Alice Sebold’s distinctive writing style of incorporating life lessons. The most obvious life lesson that permeates her novel is coping with permanent loss of a loved one. After Susie is murdered, her whole family begins to slowly shatter into pieces. Besides her younger brother who knows nothing about her death, her mother, father and sister deal with the loss of Susie in very different ways. Although losing a family member is something that happens to people everyday, Alice Sebold tries to convey the message that coping with the devastating loss of a loved one; especially a child, is not an easy process all people tend to handle the same. While trying to forget about her daughter’s brutal death, the mother drifts towards the welcoming arms of the head detective that is working the case. The father on the other hand, begins to take matters into his own hands and decides to go after the man who he believes to be his daughter’s killer. The youngest daughter copes with her sister’s death by keeping busy, being strong while in school, and confiding in her boyfriend for moral support.
The characters that Alice Sebold develops and introduces in the story are definitely believable. Their portrayals are normal and very realistic. The opening line, “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie” creates the picture of young naive 14 year old girl. Even with the word choices such as “weirded out” she creatively realistically portrays the picture of a youthful child that was simply “curious” and oblivious to her surroundings the night of her death.
Other developing characters such as her father and mother are transformed into two completely different people. As her father comes to be known as “the joke at the station,” the mother selfishly starts a new life away from her family back at home. The characters of mom and dad are quite normal actually. There are no real surprises as to how they behave because once again, coping with the crushing loss of a loved one is not an easy process that all people cope with the same way. While the mother tries to forget about the awful death of her daughter, the father seeks out revenge for his daughter.
Mrs. Sebold has written two other books, “Lucky” and “The Almost Moon,” that have been reviewed favorably. Neither book generates the excitement and intensity of “Lovely Bones,” nor do they have the easy reading style of this novel. I agree with the writers from the New York Times, O, Glamour and U.S. News & World Report on one thing about the book “Lovely Bones,” anyone that has extra time on their hands should treat themselves to this wonderful novel. They will find themselves falling in love with Susie and feeling as if they are helping to solve her case.

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