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The Lovely Bones Hardcover – June 2, 2002
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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
Sebold's first novel after her memoir, Lucky is a small but far from minor miracle. Sebold has taken a grim, media-exploited subject and fashioned from it a story that is both tragic and full of light and grace. The novel begins swiftly. In the second sentence, Sebold's narrator, Susie Salmon, announces, "I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Susie is taking a shortcut through a cornfield when a neighbor lures her to his hideaway. The description of the crime is chilling, but never vulgar, and Sebold maintains this delicate balance between homely and horrid as she depicts the progress of grief for Susie's family and friends. She captures the odd alliances forged and the relationships ruined: the shattered father who buries his sadness trying to gather evidence, the mother who escapes "her ruined heart, in merciful adultery." At the same time, Sebold brings to life an entire suburban community, from the mortician's son to the handsome biker dropout who quietly helps investigate Susie's murder. Much as this novel is about "the lovely bones" growing around Susie's absence, it is also full of suspense and written in lithe, resilient prose that by itself delights. Sebold's most dazzling stroke, among many bold ones, is to narrate the story from Susie's heaven (a place where wishing is having), providing the warmth of a first-person narration and the freedom of an omniscient one. It might be this that gives Sebold's novel its special flavor, for in Susie's every observation and memory of the smell of skunk or the touch of spider webs is the reminder that life is sweet and funny and surprising.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
This story avoids sentimentality through solid insight into the family dynamic. Overall, a good read.
I decided to read this book because I've seen the movie a few times and though it was ok, I remember my wife having read the book long beforehand the movie and she really liked it. So when the movie came on and I happened to be on Amazon with my Kindle Fire, so I searched for it and was intrigued by some of the reviews that had facts about the book and author, I downloaded the book. It is an easy read, it just flows and took a few sittings to finish. While I give the movie three stars, the book gets 4, and I would recommend that you read the book before the movie because I felt that my imagination would have portrayed the characters and settings better having not been biased...
This book truly deserves more stars than I can give it here. Written in a down-to-earth manner, the human condition is examined. The characters are real and the settings vivid. This book is moving and utterly unforgettable!
It made me smile
It book will always be in my mind.
We always ask ourselves "why?" Well I found the answer in this book. I'm fourteen and some weeks ago I bought this book. It explained me why some people die now and why some people die later. And I understand that it's okay.
The Lovely Bones is a beautiful story of loss, pain and tears. But also is a story of hope and love. Without pain, how we could know that our love is real? Susie was so young, but it doesn't matter. If you're an adult you can really identify yourself with her too. Because we all have the same question in our minds. "Why?" "What if...?" "Why me?" "Why them?"
So yeah. This books represents lost and love. Pain and joy. How an adult can't escape from her whole life because of her pain (Susie's mother). How a girl can support her father and affront her pain alone (Lindsey).
Some readers said that this book is so stupid or fantastic. That things like that would never happen. I have a question for them: How can you know? How can you be so sure that this book is not about the real world? How can you doubt the pain of the characters? The pain of Susie, if you have never be dead?
The book strikes me as clinical in many ways, in particular Sebold's account of the trial and the defense attorney's attempt to exonerate his client. The facts themselves are enough to indict the legal system that always tries to blame the female victim. However, in this case, the prosecutors had a nearly perfect victim. Sebold was a virgin before the rape, was brutally beaten in easily photographed ways, had not used drugs or alcohol and after a few initial stumbles, is able to catch on to the defense lawyer's attempts to cast a bad light on her or twist her words. I really appreciate that the book didn't become a raging diatribe at any point. It simply points out ,as Sebold says, that being a woman can suck, because they are always trying to smash you down. Even the aftermath of the rape and Sebold's trying to get on with her life after the rapist's conviction rings very true and is touching without trying to emotionally manipulate.
If you want to know how such a brutal crime can affect you or simply read about someone who made it through, it's worth reading this book.