The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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The Lovely Bones is a novel that explores the gritty concepts of murder, breakdown, grief and hell on earth. It is certainly no fairytale. But intertwined with all of the blood and pain, are the strong themes of family, hope and humour. Though it is a book of death- the main character, Susie Salmon, is brutally murdered by her deranged neighbour in a cornfield, aged fourteen- The Lovely Bones is also a book of survival. From the gazebo in her heaven, Susie watches each member of her family as they try to come to terms with the crippling grief her death has wrought upon them, and, as you can imagine, the process is not pretty. They take it day by day, and despite the tragedy they have suffered, they grow, experience and develop. They people they become are shaped by her loss. Through this, Sebold is able to introduce controversial topics such as adultery, vengeance, sexuality, responsibility and love to her novel.

I believe Sebold wrote her book in order to pose real questions. She is asking us, “What happens when the unimaginable happens?”, “What happens when your worst nightmare becomes your reality?”, and “How can we deal with that?”.

Murder is not commonplace in the UK, nor is it commonplace in many places around the world. As a sixteen year old resident of a very small country village, it’s not something that has ever featured in my life. Call me sheltered or oblivious, but for me the word murderer has only very distant connotations to real life. Horror stories broadcast in the media have always seemed so far away. That, to me, is partly why The Lovely Bones is such a powerful piece of writing. It brings murder oh so very close. A normal girl, a normal family, a normal neighbourhood. The message: it could happen to anyone. Such a simple, yet chilling thought.

The real beauty of the story, however, is in the words written after the murder has taken place. It’s in the descriptions of the family, not only as they break down and lose themselves, but also as their broken hearts mend and they find themselves again, infinitely stronger than they were before. At the beginning, the family are in pieces, and Susie is with them-in her gazebo- every painful step of the way. As they emerge from their grief, and start to move on, they need Susie, and Susie needs them, less and less. Neither one forgets the other, but each progress forward. Susie moves on to find her loved ones in heaven, whilst her loved ones on earth move on with their lives. This is the heart wrenching, yet beautiful journey Sebold allows us to be a part of in her book. I would recommend The Lovely Bones to you all.





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