The Lovely Bones

April 6, 2009
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Book Review

The Lovely Bones is a remarkable story about the loss of a child and the grieving a family must endure. After fourteen year old Susie Salmon is rapped and murdered, the coping process for an innocent family begins. Leaving behind her brother and sister, mother and father, even friends, Susie can only watch from heaven as their lives move on. While she tries to accept her new home, her family experiences many negative changes. Author, Alice Sebold uses personal experiences to tell a very detailed and emotional story of a family dealing with the cruel death of their child.

One of the main plots that Sebold develops is the death of Susie and her transformation from living with her family on earth to meeting new people in heaven. This dramatic change leaves her trying to grasp the concept of being able to watch and touch the people who are still alive. This approach gives the reader a different perspective than most other books. While Susie is trapped in heaven her family undergoes their own difficulties. A family needs strength and unity at such a terrible time; however, the Salmons are forced apart by the pain they experience. While her father is only interested in finding the killer, her mother fills the void in her life with an affair. All the while, these torn-apart parents need to continue raising their two other children. Each character is thoroughly developed and has a significant role in the story. Although grieving is a hard thing to overcome and is done in different ways, with all the detailed characters, the book is easy to relate to.

The setting of the book plays a huge role in the story. While most characters reside in the same town, Susie's new home is no longer on earth. Throughout the story, she struggles to determine whether she's in heaven or in an “In-between-Place”. Every day activities consist of attending school, where there are no academic classes, talking to “friends”, or simply watching people. Susie is often found longingly gazing at her once happy life on earth. Although she is in heaven with other people, which include an advisor and a friend her age, she feels alone and wants to go to her real home. The alteration of her location helps the author send a message. Sebold explains to readers that overcoming loss is a huge challenge. While Susie daily wishes for the life she once had, her family is torn apart by the dramatic changes from what their life used to be. The message that is sent during this story is one that many readers can relate to.

The author writes this book through two different perspectives, which makes it interesting and unique. Susie's constant watch on her family and friends triggers flashbacks of memories she had on earth. There are other perspectives of living family members that grieve, as well as reminisce time spent with Susie. Flashbacks cause the story to jump from present to future and from one character's story to another. The author tells an emotional story by choosing very fitting language. Her style is informal, yet high quality and easy to read.

Although one will read the bulk of the action at the beginning of The Lovely Bones, the story keeps excitement up until the very end. This story sorts out emotions and questions to deal with when there is a death in the family. Sebold chooses the perfect language and format to keep the reader attracted. Will all the side stories and different characters, a detailed description of hardships are told. The Lovely Bones is highly recommended.

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