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The Lovely Bones [Kindle Edition]

Alice Sebold
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,660 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $6.99
You Save: $1.00 (13%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

Once in a generation a novel comes along that taps a vein of universal human experience, resonating with readers of all ages. The Lovely Bones is such a book - a phenomenal #1 bestseller celebrated at once for its narrative artistry, its luminous clarity of emotion, and its astoniishing power to lay claim to the hearts of millions of readers around the world.

"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."

So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on eath continue without her - her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling.

Out of unspeakable traged and loss, The Lovely Bones succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy

"A stunning achievement." -The New Yorker

"Deeply affecting. . . . A keenly observed portrait of familial love and how it endures and changes over time." -New York Times

"A triumphant novel. . . . It's a knockout." -Time

"Destined to become a classic in the vein of To Kill a Mockingbird. . . . I loved it." -Anna Quindlen

"A novel that is painfully fine and accomplished." -Los Angeles Times

"The Lovely Bones seems to be saying there are more important things in life on earth than retribution. Like forgiveness, like love." -Chicago Tribune

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon ("like the fish") is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer--the man she knew as her neighbor, Mr. Harvey.

Alice Sebold's haunting and heartbreaking debut novel, The Lovely Bones, unfolds from heaven, where "life is a perpetual yesterday" and where Susie narrates and keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case. As Sebold fashions it, everyone has his or her own version of heaven. Susie's resembles the athletic fields and landscape of a suburban high school: a heaven of her "simplest dreams," where "there were no teachers.... We never had to go inside except for art class.... The boys did not pinch our backsides or tell us we smelled; our textbooks were Seventeen and Glamour and Vogue."

The Lovely Bones works as an odd yet affecting coming-of-age story. Susie struggles to accept her death while still clinging to the lost world of the living, following her family's dramas over the years like an episode of My So-Called Afterlife. Her family disintegrates in their grief: her father becomes determined to find her killer, her mother withdraws, her little brother Buckley attempts to make sense of the new hole in his family, and her younger sister Lindsey moves through the milestone events of her teenage and young adult years with Susie riding spiritual shotgun. Random acts and missed opportunities run throughout the book--Susie recalls her sole kiss with a boy on Earth as "like an accident--a beautiful gasoline rainbow." Though sentimental at times, The Lovely Bones is a moving exploration of loss and mourning that ultimately puts its faith in the living and that is made even more powerful by a cast of convincing characters. Sebold orchestrates a big finish, and though things tend to wrap up a little too well for everyone in the end, one can only imagine (or hope) that heaven is indeed a place filled with such happy endings. --Brad Thomas Parsons

Look Inside the Motion Picture The Lovely Bones (Paramount, 2010)
(Click on each image below to see a larger view)


Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon

Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon

Mark Wahlberg as Jack Salmon

Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon and Director Peter Jackson


From Publishers Weekly

Reading her breakout novel, Sebold's even, unemotional voice is a good match for both the drab setting of a Midwest town enduring the 1970s and for her matter-of-fact writing, which manages to seem grounded even as the protagonist narrates from heaven after her brutal murder. Sebold doesn't bother with voicing characters differently; the murdered girl, Susie Salmon, is the listener's window into the world she was forced to leave behind, and Sebold uses a flat, deliberate voice that manages to sound both weary and wistful. Snatches of melancholy chamber music close each track and provide more explicit emotion. What Sebold's voice lacks in stylistic flourish she makes up for with perfect pacing. In an introductory segment, Sebold recounts the novel's genesis and mentions that part of her working process involves reading everything back to herself, which explains her expert rhythm. On the final disc, Sebold reads the first chapter of her 2007 novel, The Almost Moon. While Sebold's fans will be eager for the chance to hear her read, the uninitiated may wish for a bit more passion in her presentation. A Back Bay Books paperback (Reviews, June 17, 2002).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 807 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0330511742
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (August 7, 2002)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FA5TTW
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,815 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
315 of 343 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing debut - and an excellent read July 29, 2002
Format:Hardcover
Alice Sebold has written a remarkable debut novel. The narrator, Susie Salmon, was raped and murdered in 1973 and now resides in her heaven; yet, her voice contains none of the bitterness one would expect. She is able to see into the lives of those who touched her in life and death. At times wistful - for she will never be able to experience growing up - and others matter-of-fact, Susie witnesses the changes and growth within her family and small circle of friends. Her story is not one about death, but about loss and affirming life in its face, about moving on not only for those she left behind but for herself. The reader won't be able to escape the sadness in these pages - I came close to crying several times - but the overall tone is hardly grim. Because Susie is secure and happy in her heaven, she keeps the story full of light and optimism.
This novel is not flawless, nor should it expected to be. The narrative loses some of its momentum near the end. In addition, Sebold makes the mistake of adding a scene (which I won't describe here) seemingly designed to lessen the reader's regret about Susie's missed coming-of-age, but instead the scene falls flat. Susie's loss is as much a part of this book as her family's is, and to pretend it can be reversed, even if only temporarily, defeats the story. Still, given the first two-thirds of the book, this misstep and others can be forgiven.

The Lovely Bones is one of those books you can pick up and not want to put down again until you finish. At roughly 325 pages, this novel demands to be read on a plane, or on the beach, or when you have good chunks of time available to sit with it. Don't frustrate yourself by allowing a half hour here and there.
This is one book that deserves its spot on the bestseller list.
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333 of 367 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost too close for comfort July 28, 2002
Format:Hardcover
Less than 2 years ago, our 13-year-old son Daniel died - very unexpectedly, of a massive asthma attack while on a school retreat. I purchased "The Lovely Bones", knowing the book's premise, for our 17-year old daughter to read. Not sure if the content of the book would be too close to our actual experience for Julia to handle, I decided to read it first (this is the first time I have done any pre-reading, as Julia is perfectly able to decide on her own whether or not to read a book, but still. . . ). I was very surprised to find myself riveted to the book, and unable to stop reading it until finished. While I, like many earlier reviewers, found the end a little too contrived, I certainly feel that the book's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses.
About 6 months after Daniel's death, I had a dream that portrayed a visit by my husband, daughter, and myself to Daniel in what was clearly "his heaven" - also containing a school in a residential neighborhood, a "foster family" which apparently served as his "home away from home", and - most positively - a large number of new friends. This was the best aspect of his Heaven, as far as I was concerned, as Daniel had been troubled for his entire life by an inability to make many friends, and here he was almost too busy to visit with his family because of wanting to get on with his activities with his buddies!
I have often offered the circumstances of Daniel's death - fast and probably painless (as a friend remarked, "Daniel doesn't know he's dead yet"), and that he was able to donate many of his organs - as probable explanations to those who find me so "upbeat" since he died. I contrast this situation with other, well-publicized child kidnappings, murders, and (worst, in my opinion) those events which are never resolved.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insightful look at life and death July 4, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Narrated by a very intelligent fourteen-year-old, Susie Salmon, this story opens with her violent death in a cornfield at the hands of a quietly deranged man, George Harvey. She narrates the story from heaven, a place that continually changes as she matures and watches her family's struggles and accomplishments on earth. Reeling from the grisly crime and not having closure to their daughter's death, Susie's parents have a difficult time coming to terms with this situation, and as a result, their marriage and relationships with their other two children suffer.
This story is compassionately told, and the reader quickly feels close to Susie and her family. All of the characters in this small town are interesting and add their own flavor to this intriguing story. Although there's a sad undertone throughout, there are also hints of humor, hope, and love. At times, this was a difficult book to stomach, because of the gruesome nature of George Harvey's life. But overall, it was an excellent book with memorable characters and a masterful plot. It's a quick, mesmerizing read, that leaves you wanting to learn more about Susie's life in her heaven--a mysterious and very interesting place. I'd recommend this book for its unique perspective and its honest look at the effect death has on the people a deceased person leaves behind on earth.
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75 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Hail Alice Sebold! July 13, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The booklap promises a novel that is "luminous and astonishing." Guess what? That's not hyperbole. It IS.

By now, you must know that, at the outset, we meet Susie Salmon, a 14-year-old girl who -- on a cold, snowy December late afternoon -- is raped and murdered by a neighbor in a corn field on her way home from eighth grade. She goes to heaven. And from heaven -- which is Susie's own personal heaven -- she watches life on Earth unfold for her family and friends -- and murderer.
Initally, that did not sound like a story I wanted to read. Too dark, possibly too sentimental for this middle-aged, male reader. Plus, I thought, we know who did it right at the top, so how interesting could this story be? Regardless, I bought the book because (1) of the unanimously strong reviews I had read, and (2) I was delayed at an airport and was desperate for a book to read.
Well, surprise. From the first page, I couldn't put the book down. An absolute page-turner. It's a winning mixture of true crime, coming-of-age story, fantasy, family drama and ghost story. And, for me, it was spiritually provocative, giving me pause regarding my notions of life, death and afterlife.

And all exquisitely told by Sebold. One reviewer called this a "miraculous" book. I agree. Another reviewer advised that, "if you read only one book this summer, this is the one to read." I agree heartily with that, too. Buy it, read it, savor every word.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars but was glad I read the book as it gave me more ...
Saw the movie, but was glad I read the book as it gave me more information and understanding of the characters.
Published 1 day ago by Angie Martinez
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
A compelling, entertaining read. Not that murder, rape and death are fun, but the way the book portrays the afterlife makes the dark things that happen in the world of the living... Read more
Published 3 days ago by B. Maxwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly wonderful.
I avoided this book for a long time, unable to read the heartbreaking story that is all too familiar to too many. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Jessi D. Roe
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching and sad, really inventive
Very sad all the way through, but very good. About how a girl's murder affects her family and friends.
Published 4 days ago by Swankivy
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very good book
Published 6 days ago by Ellada Chennyuk
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very unusual view of heaven, life and family. Very moving and real.
Published 6 days ago by Jean E Joslyn
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very well written and touchin
Published 7 days ago by Shereen
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story but not well written
Very imaginative story and I can see why it was made into a movie, but not very well written. Grammatical errors and run on sentences made this a difficult read. Read more
Published 8 days ago by RLpanda
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is a page turner. You want to ...
This book is a page turner. You want to know all about Susie and her view on her family as they are mourning her death. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Debbie
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book
This book was so touching. I saw the movie and needed to read the book. Fantastic!
Published 11 days ago by Linda Lou
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More About the Author

Alice Sebold is the bestselling author of "The Lovely Bones," a novel, and "Lucky," a memoir. Both are #1 New York Times bestsellers. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Sebold grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended Syracuse University, as well as the University of Houston and the University of California, Irvine. She now lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.

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Too mature for teens?
I really love this book, just read it again for about the 6th time. I have a 13 year old daughter who I would love to share it with, but due to the graphic details & violence, I don't believe she is ready for it. 13 to 15 year olds are reading Gossip Girl & Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,... Read More
Jul 13, 2006 by Holly Monte |  See all 37 posts
Line up with scripture?
It's not about religion. It's about the grieving process and the afterlife seems to be more of a metaphor for the aftermath of tragedy than anything spiritual.
Oct 11, 2008 by BooksandMoviesLover |  See all 12 posts
Is this book explicit about the Rape? My 14yr old wants to read it.
I think you should be more concerned about the details of what was done to her body after death. If you want me to go into detail, I will. The rape is pretty tame in comparison. I mean, it is horrible and it's naturally disturbing. But I don't think it's all that graphic.
He kisses her and... Read More
Oct 1, 2008 by BooksandMoviesLover |  See all 3 posts
Character names
****SPOLIER ALERT****I'm not sure that the explanation I thought about pertains to the whole family, but only Suzie. The reason I think she may have picked this name was that Salmon swim upstream...against the current. Maybe Suzie not getting over her death and life on earth was a way of... Read More
Jul 26, 2007 by Michael W. Bailey |  See all 4 posts
What parallels do you draw between this book and Forgiving Ararat?
I agree with Halle. Aside from the fact that both books were written from the viewpoint of a dead person, I don't think both hold much similarity.
Lovely Bones was very haphazardly constructed, teasing you to believe there's a grand plan in the narrative, then disappointing you when nothing much... Read More
Dec 22, 2009 by P. C. Hoe |  See all 3 posts
Sign the petition at Change.org to declare "CORRECTIVE RAPE" a hate... Be the first to reply
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