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The Lovely Bones

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“Heaven wasn’t perfect. But I came to believe that if I watched closely, and desired, I might change the lives of those I loved on Earth” (Sebold 20). Change was what Susie Salmon’s death brought to her family and friends in this mesmerizing novel called The Lovely Bones, a gripping tale of the rape and murder of a fourteen year old girl, and the events that follow.

Alice Sebold, the bestselling author of two other books, Lucky and The Almost Moon, chronicles in her very first novel, The Lovely Bones, not just Susie’s murder, but also its aftermath. Sebold uses her own life experience to enhance her novel and make it believable for the readers. When Sebold was eighteen, and a freshman at the Syracuse University, she was brutally beaten and raped in the tunnel to an amphitheatre. She recalls this tragedy in her memoir called “Lucky”, but unfortunately in her novel The Lovely Bones, Susie was the unlucky one who was not able to survive the attack. The reason why Sebold wrote another book about rape was to tell the readers the story of those who were not as fortunate as her, those who have been raped and then murdered. No person is best fit to understand and convey this message then Sebold, being a rape victim herself. “I knew he was going to kill me” was what was going through Susie’s mind when she was caught in Mr. Harvey’s trap (14). She had no way out, and no other person better understands this situation then Sebold, having been through the same experience, knowing that her rapist could have very easily killed her too.

Sebold, who has won numerous awards, including The American Bookseller Association Book of the Year Award and the Bram Stoker Award, has a very unique writing style. Instead of telling the story in chronological order, she adds glimpses of Susie’s childhood in every chapter and relates it to the events occurring in the present. This gives the readers a better understanding of the personalities of each character, and helps differentiate between the past and the present, and how things have changed after Susie’s murder. Susie’s death transformed the family in both positive and negative ways, and Sebold makes sure the readers understand the message by giving them a glance at the family’s past, while talking about the present.

Sebold’s choice of words in this novel is also very fascinating. She uses just a few good words to express her point-of-view. “Her rage, her loss, her despair” describes everything Abigail was feeling after Susie death (152). To describe heaven, Sebold plainly says, “We had been given, in our heavens, our simplest dreams” (18). The Lovely Bones does not necessarily consist of difficult and complex words, but instead words that simply get the point across.

Alice Sebold has written The Lovely Bones from Susie’s perspective. As she looks down from heaven, Susie narrates everything that is occurring on earth. I think this works best for the novel because this way, the readers are able to connect themselves and become emotionally attached to the main character. As Susie looks down on her family, Sebold carefully captures each character’s emotions, making the readers feel as if they were a part of the book, just there to observe.

Susie’s personality in this novel will immediately grab the attention of most of the young readers. Susie’s fantasies about being with her love Ray Singh, her “longing to touch and hold him”, to her talking about the growing relationship between her sister Lindsey and her boyfriend Samuel will surely interest most of the young readers (224). Teenagers will be able to make connections with Susie’s care-free and joyful personality or Lindsey’s strong, but somewhat sensitive character. The characters in this book will definitely leave a long-lasting impression on its readers. Each person will be able to learn something from this book, whether it be Lindsey’s strength and bravery, Abigail Salmon’s hope and desire, or Jack’s drive for revenge and justice. Each character has a different side to them which will make them memorable and believable.

The Lovely Bones is a perfect story of hope, love, anger, revenge and everything in between. It is a book that is a complete package, filled with suspense, humor, and romance. This novel will shock the readers until the very end. It will take you through a painful but wonderful journey that will forever remain in your hearts and mind. I recommend this book to anyone who is in for a thrill. The Lovely Bones will lift up your hopes and make you realize that there is a lot is in this world to live for. Susie says that, “People grow up by living. I want to live”, and I guarantee you, after reading this book, you will look at your life from a whole new perspective, realizing that you are one of the lucky ones, provided with the gift of existence (19).





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