The Lovely Bones (The Extremely Morbid Bones)
by Jessica Hundley
I recently just finished reading Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. Having seen the movie, I thought I knew what I was in for. Wrong. I was so very wrong. With that said, I absolutely loved this book. The material was much darker and heavier than I expected, though. An interesting thing about this novel is that although almost anyone who knows anything about this book will tell you it is about a fourteen-year-old girl who is raped and murdered, that is not the main focus.
The novel begins with the main character, Susie Salmon, immediately telling you that she has been murdered. It is literally in the second sentence. By the end of the first chapter, the reader knows exactly who killed her and how he did it. That’s it. End of mystery. The remainder of the novel is the story of how her family, friends, neighbors and even Susie’s lost soul cope and try to move on from the tragedy.
Sebold depicts a heaven that I personally did not like at all. The overwhelming feeling I took away from Susie’s heaven was a loneliness and a longing for the world of the living. It was not all rainbows and sunshine. Susie spends the majority of her time following her loved ones around on earth, wishing for nothing more than to be with them. I thought Susie’s heaven was desperately missing closure. I felt like there was not relief or comfort in her heaven. In a way it was a sort of purgatory because Susie was unable to move on.
Although I did not enjoy Sebold’s heaven, another fellow reader, who I was able to question, said that the depiction of heaven was his favorite part.
Justin Hey, who read this book for a class last fall semester, said, “I liked how her idea of heaven was different to each person, and that once you got there, you got a mentor. I also liked that there was interaction between Susie in heaven and others back on earth.”
The other element of the story I was not expecting at all was the deterioration of her family. Jack Salmon, Susie’s father becomes more and more reclusive, staying only in his study mourning the loss of his oldest child. Lindsey Salmon, Susie’s mature and intelligent younger sister, is forced to grow up way too fast. Buckley, Susie’s baby brother, is very unaware of what exactly is going on, but grows up to resent his mother. Then there is Abigail Salmon, Susie’s mother. Personally I viewed Abigail as a villain for most of the book. It wasn’t until the end that I really began to sympathize and feel bad for the lost and confused mother. Through both her affair and her abandonment of her family when they most need her, the reader really sees just how much this tragedy has shaken and devastated Susie’s mother.
With all that said, I absolutely loved this book. I thought it was written beautifully, and it really evoked emotion from the reader. The Lovely Bones is the kind of novel that a reader puts down and feels absolutely exhausted. There are times when you’re so devastated and heartbroken, and there are other times when you’re so mad you could throw the book across the room. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is looking for a thought-provoking and compelling read.