Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Goodreads description:

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.

First sentence: My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I didn't really know what to expect from The Lovely Bones. I'd heard great things about it, but I never really got the concept before I started reading it. So if you're like me, and don't really get it, let me explain: the main character, Susie Salmon, who was murdered and is now in heaven, tells us about what happens to her family and friends after her death. I love the idea of using only one person's voice but being able to know everyone's thoughts and feelings by having the story be narrated by a dead girl. This concept gave the whole novel an incredible amount of layers.

 Alice Sebold's writing is amazing and captivating - every single word in this book is simply beautiful. I absolutely loved the characters in The Lovely Bones. To me, they're what brought this story to life. They were all fully-developed and complex - each of them is completely individual, but they are still realistic and relatable (well, almost all of them were relatable - I wouldn't say I could relate to Susie's murderer, but I don't think you'd want to relate to him anyways...).

What I liked best about this novel was how beautifully Alice Sebold portrayed raw, honest emotion. I could understand each of the characters' feelings. This novel really made me feel something. It was heartbreaking to read about Susie's fate, especially from her young and innocent voice, which will definitely stay with me. I felt all of her pain and despair, and the other characters' pain as well. This novel's message is beautiful.

I know this is just a tiny thing, but one thing that often annoys me in books is that the transitions between flashbacks and present time seem forced, and luckily that wasn't the case in The Lovely Bones. These transitions were seamless and the past and present complemented each other perfectly.

I did have some problems with this novel, though. I don't know if this is just me, but some parts in the middle were kind of boring, and it was hard for me to stay focused on the plot. Some parts were confusing, too - I didn't always directly get who Susie was talking about and what had happened - sometimes, I only figured out what happened by seeing how others reacted to it. (For example, I didn't get that the father was injured or that Mr. Harvey moved away until later on.) Maybe that's my fault, though, and I should read it again to really understand everything.

***This next paragraph contains spoilers!***
One scene I didn't get was near the end, when Susie comes back down to earth into Ruth's body and has sex with Ray. I just didn't see the point of that scene. I know it helped Susie move on, but I don't really understand how having sex with Ray could help her. I'd have thought that if she had another day on earth she should have done something more meaningful or something to help her family deal with their grief.

Even though I had a few problems with the novel, as some parts are boring and confusing, this is still a great read. The writing is beautiful, the characters are fully developed, and the whole novel is heartbreakingly beautiful, conveying great emotions. Definitely worth reading!


  1. I have just watched the movie adaptation of the book. Your review makes me want to read the book too! Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the review! Now i really want to read this book! I also want to read the book before i watch the movie.

  3. Thank you very much for the fantastic review! This book sounds really wonderful!

  4. I saw the movie when it came out. Thought that was nice. Now I feel like reading the book too!

    Thanks for that!

    reviewsbyabby at gmail dot com


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