The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

October 1, 2009
THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold

Rape and murder cases always portray the victims as the sole sufferers, however there are also indirect victims: What about the families? What about the community? Sebold takes us through the aftermath of Susie Salmon’s rape, murder, and dismembering case, in the unique perspective of Susie while she’s in her version of Heaven. To pen such a detailed and realistic novel pertaining to the ripples a death can cause to a family, Sebold has drawn inspiration from her pervious personal experiences.

As a freshman in college at Syracuse, Sebold was brutally raped in the entrance tunnel of an amphitheater. Months after returning to obtain her bachelor’s in writing, Sebold recognized her rapist and reported him to the police department. Her lucky encounter resulted his conviction. Police had stated she was lucky to be alive, as his previous victim was dismembered in the same tunnel. This pushed her to publish her first work of writing, Lucky, a memoir of her tragic encounter with her rapist. Following Lucky was The Lovely Bones, which won Sebold a Bram Stoker Award and American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for Adult Fiction, and The Almost Moon.

The reader finds that The Lovely Bones is an instant page-turner, beginning the novel with the gripping first chapter detailing the death of Susie Salmon. As the novel progresses, we are exposed to the ultimate deterioration of the Salmon family and the extended grief that some characters are experiencing. Sebold uses realism and fluency in her writing to captivate the audience. The events are told to the reader through Susie’s observance in her heaven, inserting memories where appropriate, providing an inside view on the events that unravel before the Salmon’s. Sebold’s bold move to incorporate the protagonist of a novel from Heaven results in a gripping novel that makes the reader want to finish the book before putting it down. The purpose of the novel’s purpose is answering the question posed by Susie, “What about the dead? Where do we go?” Susie cannot “give up on earth,” which is the one thing that is keeping her from reaching ultimate heaven where “it isn’t about gritty reality.” This perspective provided by Sebold to Susie is just one of the unique styles Sebold brings to The Lovely Bones.

The direct diction that is present in The Lovely Bones allows with readers to easily identify with characters and displays a “luminous clarity of emotion.” The eventual separation of Abigail and Jack Salmon is one of the sub-plots that further shows the effects of a death in the family. However, as Sebold portrays Jack as a character that “could see shimmers, like colored flecks inside [Abigail’s] eyes – things to hold on to.” This reinforces the tragic emotional characteristic that Sebold meticulously incorporated into the novel, to provide a depth other than a death to the novel.

This is simply a must read for anyone that has suffered a death that is close to them or anyone looking for an easy and compelling read. The ability of an author to evoke emotions is astounding, and Sebold did this through her use of diction and meticulous details. This book will not disappoint any prospective readers.





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