The Lovely Bones write by Alice Sebold is a novel about many things, but at the core of it is life and death, just like so many other experiences in this world. The book tells the story of a young girl who is raped and murdered, and what happens to her family in the aftermath of her death. This book tells a dark and sorrowful story, but there are moments of mystery, suspense, and even joy along the way. The Lovely Bones is fictional, but is one of the most honest, truthful, and beautiful books about a topic that is quite painful.
Alice Sebold has published three books, however The Lovely Bones is the only one that she has won any awards for. She has won the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel in 2002 and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for Adult Fiction in 2003. Alice Sebold is now 51 and lives in Madison, WI.
This novel is narrated by Susie Salmon, the girl who gets murdered at the beginning of the book. Most unusually, she is narrating from heaven. In the book there is a description of Susie’s heaven and she refers to the fact that there are many others. How heaven works is never made clear in the book but the reader knows that Susie is somewhere where she can watch over loved ones that she had to leave behind.
Susie watches from above as her family mourns her loss and tries to discover what happened to her. She sees her parents become less and less connected to each other. Her younger siblings, Lindsey and Buckley, struggle because they feel like they reminds their parents of the daughter that they lost. Lindsay feels that she cannot be an individual and will always live in the shadow of her big sister, because when people look at her all they see is Susie.
The other main characters in the book are two kids Susie’s age who form an unlikely friendship through her death. The first person is Ray Singh; he and Susie were each other's middle school crushes. They shared their first kiss with one another. Because of this Ray is the first suspect for Susie's murder. However, the police soon discover that that theory is preposterous. Ray only ever feels love towards Susie. Ray becomes close friends with a girl in his grade named Ruth who believes she saw Susie’s ghost and becomes slightly obsessed with her death.
As the book progresses we watch along with Susie Salmon as all these characters, and a few others, develop and grow throughout the years. Watching from heaven, Susie realises that the thing she misses most is being alive. Part of the reason that Susie has such a strong passion for the life she once had is that it was taken from her so suddenly. She has a hard time accepting that she will never return to the life she had, or life at all. At one point in the book she explains this by saying, “Heaven is comfort, but it's still not living.” This book gives the reader a deeper appreciation for the simple or mundane moments in life, because the narrator misses these things, and shows their priceless value.
All readers should know that this book can be hard to read at times because Susie was raped, and in heaven is still struggling with that experience. Witnessing her going through his is very insightful to the reader. She is able to talk about rape and murder in a way that makes it easier to understand in some ways. For the reader, it takes topics that are not often talked about, and makes them more approachable but also emphasises the severity of the situation. One of the best passages in the book that portrays this reads, “Murderers are not monsters, they're men. And that's the most frightening thing about them.” The author takes something so true and explains it in a way that stays with the reader.The Lovely Bones is a work of art, it beautifully illustrates the pain of death and the joys in life. With her lively and realistic characters, Alice Sebold explores and demonstrates how the death of a loved one is an almost unimaginable sadness. But that people can life through the sorrow and continue on their path. She also explores life after death from a new point of view, and with the belief that anything is possible. Readers who are interested in reading about the afterlife, and the effect that death has not just on a group of people, but on a community, should read The Lovely Bones. They will find this book a page turner and a novel that stays with them long after they finish.