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The Lovely Bones Hardcover – January 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Perfection Learning (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756951410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756951412
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,578 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #712,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
1,586
4 star
847
3 star
462
2 star
349
1 star
334
See all 3,578 customer reviews
Though the book is, overall, amazing and very well written, the ending is a bit foggy.
Christine Maughan
This book made me wonder what heaven is really like, and what I would do if something like that happened to someone I know.
Jennifer Scott
I am an avid reader who has read all sorts of books from various authors, however the writing style was just a struggle.
V. D Hill

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

308 of 335 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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319 of 353 people found the following review helpful By Lover of children's books on 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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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 2002
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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72 of 83 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 2002
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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