Book Club book #25: The Lovely Bones

Just an update: the last time we checked in I in the middle of reading book 19 which was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I finished that book, as well as the rest of the series and then immediately jumped into The Lovely Bones. I am not talking about the Harry Potter series as I plan to continue my book vs. movie discussion over on Bullshish. Now if you did the math you would realize I should be on book 23, but I forgot to include two books in my previous post. So now I should be between 28 and 32. Meh, I will catch up! And now, for the latest review. **Oh, and I tried my hardest not to include any sort of spoiler. I think I did a good job, but just sort of be warned there may come a piece or two of information that could be considered “spoiler” worthy.**

The Lovely Bones

Book: The Lovely Bones

Author: Alice Sebold

Number of Pages: 328

Plot, according to the back of the book:

“My name was Salmon, like the fish, first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her—her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling.

Plot, in my own words:

Susie Salmon was just a normal girl who was brutally raped and murdered. She spends the entirety of the book narrating her story from Heaven as she watches down on her family, friends, and killer.

Thoughts, comments, questions, concerns:

One day I walked into a bookstore, picked up a copy of The Lovely Bones, paid for it, went home, sat on my bed and began to read the story of Susie Salmon. (A story that was rapidly becoming a much talked about topic among the literary world.) One chapter later I put down the book and did not pick it up again for at least five years.  There it sat, lonely (no pun intended) on my bookshelf just waiting to be read, but every time I looked at the thing I got the most horrible feeling in my stomach. Then I heard a rumor that it was being adapted into a movie. I thought about reading the book. Then I heard that the rumor proved to be true. I thought about reading the book. Then I went and saw a movie, and can you guess what one of the trailers was? Go on, I don’t think you will get it. IT WAS THE LOVELY BONES. I then went home, picked up the book, pushed myself through that darn first chapter and fell in love with the stupid thing.

As previously stated above, The Lovely Bones is the story of a young girl, told in first person narrative, who was raped and murdered by her neighbor. You find all of this out within the first two sentences of the book, so I don’t know what I was expecting, but by the end of the chapter it was as if you had witnessed Susie’s rape (which I believe was so realistic because of Sebold’s own rape that occurred during her college years). One of my biggest fears in life (as I am sure it is with a lot of women) is getting kidnapped and raped. I mean honestly, when I had to walk the streets of London alone to get groceries I was terrified. Not because I didn’t trust the city of London, but it is just this fear instilled inside of us. It has increasingly grown over the past few years and when I first picked up the book I couldn’t read past the first chapter. Now, I’d like to think that within the past five or so years I have grown up. Rereading the chapter wasn’t as bad as it was the first time; I was able to push through and read the entire novel, but Sebold is such an exceptional writer that no matter what point you are at in the book you are feeling some kind of emotion whether it be happiness, grief, fear, hatred, suspense, or even confused.

And that right there is what makes this book exceptional. You are seeing everything through the eyes of a girl sitting in Heaven, and yet you are able to sympathize with a grieving father, a heartbroken sister, a brother who is too young to fully grasp the situation, a mother who is on the slippery slope of severe depression, and a girl who can see her family, hear her family, but not talk to her family. Without giving anything away, all I can say is one minute you find yourself crying, the next SHOUTING at a character, then laughing, and maybe some more crying, and finally coming to grips with the ending. The characters are all lovable in their own unique way (with the exception of the killer who is one of the creepiest characters I have come across in a long, long time) and it has been a while since I have read a story of fictional characters set in the “real world” (as opposed to a wizard’s school) to which I have felt so connected.

The imagery and details Sebold uses to describe the events as well as the setting for such scenes is brilliant. You really do get a sense that you are there, alongside of Susie, watching this stuff unfold. Sebold has such a creative, unique style of writing as well. In the middle of a chapter when she finished a thought or a scene, she finishes it, skips a few lines, and then jumps to the next thought, scene, or flashback. There are no unnecessary fillers between the stories. She gives you the facts, slightly veiled by mystery, and then she sort of brilliantly strings them all together in the end. This is definitely a book that requires your full attention as things are often mentioned in one chapter, and then slightly (and sometimes quite sneakily) referred to in future chapters.

Bottom line:

Read this book. Read this book, read this book, read this book! I’m not going to lie and say it is happy all the time and everything ends up nice and pretty and perfect. It doesn’t. But sometimes books NEED to end this way to remind the reader that life doesn’t happen this way. People aren’t perfect; they make mistakes. You can’t bring people back from the dead but you can keep them alive in your memories. The final message of the book is about understanding, acceptance, and moving forward with your life. This book is a beautiful representation of how life really works. I absolutely recommend this to anyone and everyone.

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