My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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
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.