Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

First Lines of this book:

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”

Once upon a time, I was rereading Harry Potter during the lunch period of my internship. I decided that it was time to stop putting off that stupid bulletin board I was supposed to be making and I turned to the computer only to notice a pile of books stacked haphazardly on my desk. On top, The Lovely Bones. Of course I’d heard of the book and I know the movie had just come out. I opened it to the first page, and ended up reading 80 pages without stopping. (And no, I didn’t do the bulletin board…don’t judge me). This book was one word: captivating.

This book follows the story of Susie Salmon, beginning with her murder. She has to adjust to her new home in heaven as she watches her family adjust to their new life of coping with a missing and dead daughter. Over the course of the novel, she watches her sister grow into a hardened woman, her mother lose herself in despair, and her father vowing revenge on the neighbor he knows killed his little girl.

The first chapter of this book is horrific. Truly horrific. We have all been dulled down by the murders that are constantly swimming across our television screens on CSI and all of those other shows, but there is something special about this death, something more brutal. Maybe it’s the fact that the only body part they could find of Susie’s was her elbow… yeah, freaking ridiculous. Don’t be alarmed by that though, the graphic part doesn’t last long and it’s worth bearing through to the end.

We all think of life after death and we have all seen different views of it. The view of the afterlife in this book is one of the most beautiful that I have ever encountered. This is the heaven I want. In this heaven, if you want something and will it there, it will appear. You live the life you wanted to live and live among people whose heavens collide with yours. It’s beautiful and simple.

“Hours before I died, my mother hung on the refrigerator a picture that Buckley had drawn. In the drawing a thick blue line separated the air and ground. In the days that followed I watched my family walk back and forth past that drawing and I became convinced that that thick blue line was a real place- an Inbetween, where heaven’s horizon met Earth’s. I wanted to go there into the cornflower blue of Crayola, the royal, the turquoise, the sky.”

I’ve read a lot of books about how people who are left alive cope with the death of a loved one. Sebold changes it up a bit and allows us to see how the dead cope with their death and the feeling of leaving their world behind. It was truly a remarkable point of view and one that I have never experienced. It made me feel even more connected and sympathetic towards the family that was left behind, even when they did things that made me mad.

As the book progressed, the family Susie has left behind continues to disintegrate. Not to give too much away but, I hate what the mom does to her family. In my opinion, it was an easy way out for both the character and the author. This isn’t the first book I read where the wife has reacted like this and I’m sick of the woman running away. It didn’t seem to fit the character of Abigail Salmon to leave her family.

Other than that, there was only one other thing that I disliked. Spoilers here! Do not read ahead if you don’t want a small part of this book ruined.

Ok, so the whole, Susie takes over Ruth’s body thing? What. The. Hell? I was super confused at first. As I kept reading, it bothered me a little less…. But then they had sex. Well, Ray had sex with Ruth’s body but Susie’s soul…. No bueno. It seemed a bit too far fetched. The ghost part of the book was so beautiful until the whole body takeover thing.

Spoilers over

And also, the rapist/murderer in this book is probably the most terrifying human being ever invented. He’s the classic creepy gross neighbor guy from the seventies with gross comb over hair and huge glasses. And his name is George Harvey, that’s just creepy.

But, I can promise you this, if you can stick out the first few chapters of this book, you will love the end. It ends beautifully and gives you hope for the life after death and it gives hope to people who have been left behind. For most people, they have all lost someone close enough to them to feel left behind. This book makes that loss a bit more bearable I feel, and it puts a new spin on things.

“These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections – sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent – that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous body had been my life.”

This is an excellent read. Please read it, especially if you have seen the movie. From what I hear, the movie is quite different. Read the book!

Until next time, happy reading! Send me your book recommendations if you have them, I’d be happy to check them out and review them all! Leave any comments below! I’d love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. Here is a kind of life after death you can be sure of...