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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (final thoughts)

March 26, 2010

Susie Salmon is not your typical narrator. She is raped and murdered by a neighbour when she’s 14, but that’s just the beginning of the story. Reading The Lovely Bones, we follow Susie to what she calls “my heaven,” where her every desire is fulfilled. Well, almost every one. What she wants most is to be with her family and friends and to experience what they’re experiences. And so she spends a good deal of time sitting in the gazebo in the middle of her heaven, watching her family, her friends, her murderer as they continue on with life.

I feel like I’m the very last person in the world to read this book, so I probably don’t need to say too much about plot. And I probably don’t have much to add to the conversation that’s been going on since 2002, other than: This Book Is Good. Seriously.

The subject matter is tough and I’m sure that if I was a parent the first chapter would be almost unbearable to read. It was hard enough to get through as it was. However, for the next few chapters I couldn’t put the book down. I could feel Susie’s joy as she discovered the possibilities of her heaven and her frustration as she tried in vain to communicate with those left behind.

The family’s grief was hard to read, but it felt like they were so close to getting answers to Susie’s murder. Not that answers would bring her back, but they would hopefully help everyone heal. Unfortunately it just wasn’t going to work that way.

For me, the hardest part of the book was the middle. It was just so depressing, worse than the grief and shock of the first bit. No longer enthralled with the wonders of her heaven, Susie spends even more time watching Earth. Watching her family splinter and fall apart. Watching her friends either push any memories of her away or dwell obsessively on her and others who have died.

Although parts of the ending seemed a bit anti-climatic, I loved the hope that was evident. There were some sweet moments there, that made me tear up a bit and wish that I hadn’t decided to finish the book at a cafe, surrounded by people. All in all, I am very glad I finally read The Lovely Bones.

Now the question is: Should I watch the movie?

My rating: 8/10

Related:
Teaser Tuesday
Soundtrack Saturday

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2010 8:32 pm

    I haven’t read this one. So you are not alone.

  2. March 27, 2010 8:55 pm

    I enjoyed this and I’m so very glad I read it before the movie came out. I haven’t seen it though so I suppose that fact doesn’t really matter. I’m definitely interested in seeing the scenes about Susie’s heaven…I’ve seen clips and it looks stunning.

    Very glad to hear you enjoyed it :]

  3. March 29, 2010 5:43 am

    so glad you loved it! I’ve avoided the movie, neve have good luck with books to movies (other then HP series which I loves both). It’s one book that reaclly sticks with ya eh!

  4. March 29, 2010 7:57 am

    I know the movie would be too upsetting for me. The previews were too upsetting for me! :P Though I do like that young actress who plays Susie; I thought she was very, very good in Atonement.

  5. March 29, 2010 8:49 am

    Our book club read this book together last year and we have gone to see other movies from books we’ve read (Time Traveler’s Wife and we’re going to see Alice in Wonderland), however we had heard such negative things about this one that we’ve decided to wait until it comes out on DVD and watch it as someone’s house…so we felt like it might not be worth the money…I’m not sure I’ve heard anything positive about the movie – let us know if you see it!

  6. March 29, 2010 4:21 pm

    Bluestocking – Ha, good to know!

    Mishel – I tried to block out images from the movie previews when I read the book, but it was pretty hard. I’m really curious to see how they did everything.

    Mel (He Followed Me Home) – It sure does, I’m still thinking about it almost a week later. I know what you mean about movies based on books. I try to take the movies as their own entity, but it can be really hard to separate them from the book, especially if it’s a book you really loved.

    Jenny – That’s what I thought, too, when I first saw the previews. I didn’t want to see the movie at all. But now that I’ve read the book my curiosity will most likely get the best of me!

    Ellie – I was actually planning on renting the movie this weekend, but apparently it doesn’t come out until April 20. Oops – gotta scrap those plans! I’ll definitely let you know my thoughts once I do watch it.

  7. March 29, 2010 7:48 pm

    I have to admit that I think I am one of the only people out there that didn’t seem to have the same reaction to this book as others. I thought it was good, but not great. I didn’t really get into it that much, or find it really depressing or really anything for that matter. For me it was just one of those books that you read and then forget about.

    I decided not to see the movie, I heard so many bad reviews about it, I didn’t want to spoil the book

  8. March 30, 2010 8:05 am

    Hi Alita! I wasn’t all that crazy about it, but I liked Lovely Bones too, especially how the outlook remains positive despite all that’s happening. I didn’t like the whole possession thing, though.

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