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The Lovely Bones Paperback – 2002
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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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
--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.
Top customer reviews
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Alice's courage may be appreciated by many, but is viscerally appreciated by other victims.
Her prose and the rhythm of her writing makes this memoir all the more powerful--as if the story weren't horrific and devastating enough, of the rape and of being forced to live the rest of your life with the flinching and rage of someone who has been forever altered by having been raped.
Thank you, Alice Sebold.
I also saw the movie version by Peter Jackson. I did like most the movie, but not everyone who is a fan of the book did. Susie's heaven would be difficult to interpret in a movie set. So I think Peter Jackson did the best he could to both honor the book and also make it visually interesting for the viewer. But if you have read the book and then watch the movie, you will see many discrepancies in the film. As they say, "The book is always better."
You have to wonder how someone ends a book of this nature. And I thought Alice Sebold did a great job with giving the reader closure, but also making us want more. When I finished it, I did want more, but I did not feel slighted either. You felt that Susie and her family were going to be okay. And Mr. Harvey? I like the way the film handled him, but the book tells more detail, of course. This book will always be on my shelf for re-reads. I rarely do that with books. So far, this one and "The Help" have been read more than once. So, in my world, it takes a special kind of story, told in a special kind of way for me to enjoy reading it more than once. And this book definitely fits the bill.
Sebold's honesty throughout the book was amazing. The wealth of details she generously provided, physical and emotional--about the rape, about life after, about the trial--are key to helping us understand the during and after experience of rape.
"Lucky" was beautifully told, with a beginning that grabbed you by the ... throat. My only complaint is that, and this is simply one reader's opinion, the book took a little too long to end. I would have been fine if the book ended on page 242. The last sentence of that chapter would have made a very powerfuland satisfying conclusion.
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.