The Lovely Bones is a compelling story by Alice Sebold through which the reader witnesses the thoughts of a 14-year old girl lost in heaven and of her family and friends grieving on earth. The first line grabs your attention with “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” (Sebold 5). Sebold had taken a feared tragedy and turned it into a piece of extraordinary literature that you’d be missing if you passed up the opportunity to read it.
This book tells the story of love, deception, and lust. Throughout the novel Sebold creates a relationship among almost every character. Susie and her young love and her sister and her life love. Susie’s friends experiment and her parent’s relationship is strained. The writing makes you feel like you are living in the story that you can’t help but feel grief as well. The desire for revenge also begins to dwell inside the reader. Her killer is running free with no chance of police suspicion. Her father knows by instinct but can’t put the pieces together. Mr. Harvey tricked the police like he tricked Susie the night he murdered her. Secrets are woven throughout the novel.
The book focuses on the struggles many families may have to deal with. Susie sees her family splitting apart from grief. Her mother has a forbidden love and her father is lost many nights in his den. Her sister hungers for vengeance and her little brother is stuck unknowing. The family holds on to the belief that “nothing is ever certain,” (Sebold 22). The reader knows that Susie is dead and the hope of the family and the sentences of pathos appeal lead into paragraphs and into chapters.
Susie lives her life through everyone else. She tells the reader, “I saw Lindsey move toward Samuel Heckler. She kissed him; it was glorious. I was almost alive again.” (Sebold 71). The reader witnesses whatever Susie sees from where she sits in heaven. The only disadvantage to this is that we flip from person to person and see their lives which can confuse the reader. However, it makes it a good story because we can see the point of view of every character in the book.
Alice Sebold is also the author of the books Lucky and Almost Moon with similar occurrences of rape and murder. The Lovely Bones was in between the two. Sebold said of The Lovely Bones: “I was motivated to write about violence because I believe it’s not unusual. I see it as just a part of life, and I think we get in trouble when we separate people who’ve experienced it from those who haven’t. Though it’s a horrible experience, it’s not as if violence hasn’t affected many of us.” The Lovely Bones was a great read for anyone and it is a great opportunity to learn what living through a tragedy is like.