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Friday, June 3, 2011

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Title: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Publisher: Back Bay Books (Little Brown & Co.)
ISBN: 9780316166683
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, & Crime
Pages: 328
Rating: 4.5 Crowns

Synopsis: "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. Out of the unspeakable tragedy and loss, The Lovely Bones succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.

My Review: I pretty much loved this book, but I will say from the start that I can absolutely see why it is not for everyone. This is tough subject matter, a very emotional ride, and something you won't easily forget. If nothing else, I would encourage you to definitely read it in the privacy of your home - it's not the sort of book I would have taken out in public. The tears started flowing from page one, and didn't let up much throughout the entire book.

I'm not sure what I thought this book would be - I knew it was the story of a girl who was tragically murdered, but I guess I assumed ahead of time that it was a murder mystery. It is definitely not that. We are introduced to Susie's murderer on the second page and there is no doubt whatsoever that he is the guilty person. Instead, this is a tale of what heaven might be like, what things could be after you die, and what is left behind on earth after you go.

We see the entire story through Susie's eyes, she tells us about the past and present through her narrative from heaven. She tells us a variety of things - about herself and how she's coping with her own death and wanting so desperately to be alive; her family and the varying struggles they go through in the aftermath of her death; the people who continue to think of and care for her year after year once she's gone. There are even flashes to the early life of her murderer, which is interesting, though I didn't find it sympathetic in any way. Perhaps the hardest part of all is seeing how her murderer goes on with his life, almost as though nothing had ever happened.

Although the more supernatural elements of this story aren't really plausible, the on earth parts are both terrifying and all too real. I think most women have gone through times when they are overtly aware of their vulnerability, and this book absolutely opened this up for me. Sadly, this kind of thing does happen to women of all ages, and it's difficult to turn a blind eye to this very realistic aspect of the story. At the same time, there are aspects of that which made it a better story for me, because it genuinely made me feel and think about the world I live in.

I can't say enough good about this book, and I'm sad I waited as long as I did to read it. My only complaint is really that I'm not huge into supernatural stuff, so some of the elements towards the end of the book were a bit more difficult for me to get through. That aside, it was fantastic and I would recommend this one to anyone.

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Mystica said...

I dont read much of this genre but this review has got me going!

Marce said...

This book continues to get amazing reviews from those that were unsure about etc, great honest review, I must read this.

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

Mystica - I wasn't sure if this book would be for me either, but I quite liked it :) Hope you get the chance to read it!

Marce - It really was just fabulous, such an emotional read. I loaned it to a friend right away!