The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (final thoughts)
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