Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

The Lovely Bones is a rich and powerful novel about a family coping with the extreme grief and trauma of a child being abducted and murdered. It is narrated by Susie herself, who is watching from Heaven as her family and friends grow up without her. In this story, Heaven is different for each person, and you can have anything you want. Susie's Heaven is a poignant reflection of what any teenager would wish for - just like her school playground, except 'there were no teachers... We never had to go inside except for art class... The boys did not pinch our backsides or tell us we smelled; our textbooks were Seventeen and Glamour and Vogue'  She also surrounds herself with dogs, and is able to interact with other people whose Heavens are similar to hers.
What could have been a truly dark, depressing story is actually filled with hope and beauty, as it follows the lives of each member of the Salmon family, as well as Susie's friend and the boy with whom Susie had her first kiss shortly before being murdered. Susie's younger sister begins a relationship with a boy shortly after Susie's death. They stay together for years and eventually get engaged, much to Susie's delight. Her parents break up due to the immense stress Susie's death puts upon their relationship, and her mother travels to California and starts a new life. 
This is not a religious story, and Sebold does not force her view of life after death onto the reader. It is an uplifting idea of what might happen to people when they die, and the thought that they can watch us and that we will one day be reunited is a comforting one. But it can just as easily be taken as fantasy.
I found The Lovely Bones impossible to put down, as I was so invested in the lives of these characters. It is beautifully written and so, so, so much better than the film, which my mum and I both agreed got the story completely wrong and missed the point of the book! They just don't compare at all. 

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