Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

12232938The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Borrowed
Publication Date: 2002
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Point of View: 1st Person & 3rd Person
Recommended Age: 13+
Pacing: Very Slow
Genres &  Themes: Adult, Death, Family, Ghosts, Life, Love

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The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder — a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family’s need for peace and closure.

The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.


The moment I finished The Lovely Bones, I let out a long, slow and heavy breath.

Because that was some damn satisfying ending.

I strongly believe that if you go into this book thinking it will be creepy, scary, mysterious, fast-paced and full of shocking revelations, you will be tempted to put it aside after the first sixty pages.

It’s not only about the pedophilia, rape or murder. It’s not only about catching the killer. And it’s definitely not only about punishing Mr. Harvey for what he did.

The Lovely Bones follows the family and friends of Susie, a teenage girl murdered by her neighbour. We see their reactions and coping mechanisms in full detail. We see them fall apart and rise again. Some lose themselves, but others find new reasons for existing. Many try to find the killer, while others perpetually mourn her.

At first, I was surprised to see that so many people have read this slow, repetitive and, at times, unexciting story. But I understand why it’s so acclaimed by critics. The fact that it describes the lives of so many people after such a tragic event has happened is what makes it so different.

It’s not just that the author shows the characters’ reactions; she really gets into their minds and makes us understand why they behave the way they do, say things they wouldn’t have said before and change in such a sudden manner.

The characters are written in a way that makes us feel relatively detached from them, while still keeping an interest in understanding their actions. Sometimes, I was bored by them.

Still, I couldn’t stop reading: I needed to know how it would end and, frankly, that part really made me not regret reading this book in the first place.

You’re not exactly missing the world by not reading it, but it’s the type of book that, despite its flaws, will make you remember how important life, family, love and friendship are.

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16 thoughts on “Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

  1. All the elements you desribed about how the author shows how each character reacts after the murder makes me really interested… I’ve been wanting to read a book that may have a slightly creepier side, lately. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! 🙂
    Perhaps it’s just because I’ve worked a fair bit with kids Susie’s age, but I found the pacing fascinating. If you ask a kid that age to talk about something that they don’t quite understand or are uncomfortable with, this book is basically what you get. They need to talk in circles like Susie does, because they’re trying to figure it out.


  3. Great review 😊 I also read it a couple of years ago and I still thought it was exciting, despite the fact that there is any noticeable action. Like you’ve said the writing and character development is what really makes this a good book!


  4. Love your review and I agree with everything that you have said. I usually struggle with slow paces and this one felt extremely slow but like you, I kept reading. The book made me think about life after death and what happens when we lose loved ones. Great review.


  5. Great review!
    Slow-paced books need a really good story for me to keep reading. But The Lovely Bones has something that grabs you and doesn’t let go.


  6. Great Review!!
    I have seen the movie version of this, but have not picked up the book. I can’t say that I loved the movie, but the books are always better so who knows?
    It may be a bit too slow paced for me but I will give it a go at some stage I hope. Thanks for the review 🙂


  7. Great review! I read this book long ago. It was recommended by my co-worker. I remember feeling so sad after the read because it’s so real. It feels like a true story.


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