The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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Swimming with the Fishes


“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973”(1). There aren’t very many books out there written about a dead person, written by that same dead person. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is a unique book to say the least. As Susie dies and goes to heaven, we read along as Salmon watches down on her broken family with a fishy eye.

The very first pages of this novel reveal the tragic rape and murder of 14 year old Susie Salmon. Susie goes to her own heaven where there is everything she could possibly desire, except for one thing- life. For years and years she watches her family on Earth, unable to come to terms with her own death. She watches as her father agonizes over his first child and obsesses with the arrest of her killer, she watches as her sister Lindsey grows up to do everything she would never get a chance to do, she watches as her killer lurks the streets she once walked on, and she watches as her family falls apart before her helpless eyes.

As the very first lines reveal the surprising death of young Susie Salmon, it is safe to say that The Lovely Bones is anything but predictable. The author keeps the readers on a roller coaster of emotions for we can never answer the question all readers want the answer to, “what will happen next?” Alice Sebold immediately starts off with a huge spin as it is revealed that Susie was murdered by her next door neighbor, George Harvey. She makes us readers cringe as Mr. Harvey drags Susie’s body feet from the Salmon home, and we wonder if he will ever get caught. Sebold is able to make her readers believe in one thing through the clever use of foreshadowing; yet can completely bewilder us as details are unveiled. Though it is clear that the Salmon family is falling apart, the storyline continues to be unpredictable, keeping the readers on their toes as they are eager to know how the story will end.

To the grieving minds of the Salmon family, to the only man who knows who Susie’s killer is, to the lost mind of Susie’s killer himself. The various perspectives give us deep insight on the misery of the Salmon family and the sick past and thoughts of Mr. Harvey. Every member of the Salmon family feels differently and is affected by the death of Susie in a different way. The omniscient view of Susie allows the readers to connect and understand the characters of the novel. We can feel Jack Salmon’s anger and desperation as he practically begs the officers to arrest the man who murdered his daughter. We can feel the insecurity of Lindsey as she is forever known as “the dead girl’s sister”. And we can understand the confusion of little Buckley as he struggles to learn the meaning of gone. The never-ending perspectives allow the readers to sympathize for this family and better understand death and its heartbreaking effects on a family.


Death, misery, and murder may not sound like such an interesting topic but the words, storytelling, and total familiarity with human tragedy will surely leave readers in awe; teary eyed and completely glued to all 328 pages. With the various perspectives given by Susie’s omniscient views, and unpredictable plot, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold will be sure to snatch up anyone who reads the first page, and will leave you wanting more of Susie’s life in heaven and the Salmon family’s life on Earth.





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