Title: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Publication Year: 2002
Source: Audiobook borrowed from the Toronto Public Library system (narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan)
From the cover:
When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn’t happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.
I’ve heard so much about this book, for so long, that I can’t believe it took me this long to get around to reading it.
The Lovely Bones is one of those books that gets really hyped up and actually deserves it.
The entire story is narrated from the point of view of Susie, looking down on her family and friends from “her” heaven after her death. She can tell what people are thinking, saying, and doing, but cannot really communicate with them in a way that they can understand. For the majority of the novel, we watch her family cope – or fail to cope – with her brutal murder; although her body is never found, the police eventually figure out that she has definitely been killed, and they cannot figure out who the killer is. Susie knows, though, and so we know, and we join her in watching her family and friends interact with each other, other people, and even the murderer himself. It made for quite an intense read!
I loved that the story was told through Susie’s eyes, particularly the way that Sebold depicted Susie’s changing attitudes and desires throughout the novel. She was always believable, even when the events or places she talked about didn’t seem like they could be. And Susie was such a sympathetic character that you hoped for the best, even though you already knew the worst had happened. She even made me hope that other characters in the story would turn out okay, even when they did things that made me angry or disappointed. There was no real “happy ending” to The Lovely Bones, but it was still a great book.
Another teacher at my school had told me that she never finished this book, that she had to put it down because it was too depressing. There were a couple points in the story where I could definitely understand where she was coming from: it seems, at times, that bad things just keep on piling up. After sticking through it, though, it was more the way that the story was told, Susie’s point of view, that made it interesting enough and made you see the goodness in other characters and in the novel as a whole.
The narrator for this particular recording really helped me to understand the story and to put myself into Susie’s shoes. I’m not sure if I would have liked this book as much on paper, to be completely honest. The woman reading the book was spot on in her inflection and even in making herself sound as though she could have been the teenage Susie. I was drawn in right from the beginning, and managed to finish The Lovely Bones in less than three days, even with exams at school, baseball at night, and many other things to do. I didn’t want to put it down – I found myself looking for reasons to put my earphones back in and keep listening.
If you haven’t read The Lovely Bones before, but have heard that you should … do it. Do it now.
- 40/100 for the 1010 Category Challenge
- 6/12 for the Wish I’d Read That Challenge
- 6/20 for the Audio Book Challenge