The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, is the story of Susie Salmon who is raped and killed at the age of fourteen by the hands of a neighbor, Mr. Harvey. After being lured into a strange underground fort, Susie becomes just another one of Mr. Harvey’s victims in a chain of female serial murders.
While coping with her death, Susie watches her family live through the investigation of her murder, and the devastation that follows the realization that Susie is gone.
Each member of her family is affected in very specific and individual ways, from her younger brother, Buckley, who was too young to understand what death was when the murder occurred, to Susie’s mother, Abbie, who falls into a state of immense doubt and insecurity about her marriage and life as a whole.
Living in her personal heaven, Susie experiences the emotional rises and falls of each member of her family, as her own absence from Earth becomes more and more bearable.
Susie’s death and afterlife also make a huge impression on the lives of childhood classmates Ruth and Ray, who continually feel her presence. I chose to read this novel based on a recommendation by my peers, and expected a sad story about a young girl’s murder.
Instead, The Lovely Bones shattered my predeterminations, and turned out to be something completely different than I had expected.
While there were obvious moments of sadness, every other emotion is experienced when reading this novel, from happiness, to frustration, to hope.
The unique point of view, as the story is told as Susie’s view of Earth from heaven, gave me a whole new perspective of heaven and the idea of an afterlife.
I could not put the book down simply because the story was so compelling and grasped my attention from first page to last.
The way Sebold explores how Susie’s death had such an impact on not only her family, but certain people who hardly even knew her, is fascinating.
Sebold’s style of turning a topic that is often exploited by the news into a tragic, yet hopeful tale illustrates her ability to portray the grief that results from a horrific murder, while instilling hope in all that read the novel.
I also enjoyed The Lovely Bones because it showed the emotional effects of a loss on a level that I had never realized before; members of Susie’s family are ultimately affected by her death in almost every aspect of their life, in both obvious and extremely subtle ways.
I would recommend The Lovely Bones because it was one of the most powerful novels I have ever read. Anyone who has experienced a loss, and even those who are fortunate to have not, should read this novel because it gives such a wonderful perspective of heaven and how the dead continue to stay with the living.
I feel that Sebold’s original take on heaven is refreshing and sheds a hopeful light on tragedy and death. The Lovely Bones is a unique, heartbreaking novel that shows the true effects of loss and life changing events.