Review: “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold

Moving on from the well-known fact that the world has stepped into year 2013 (we all know one day old resolutions don’t make us better people) let’s not waste space and talk about a certain book I came upon via my sister. Published in 2002 it received great praise and acclaim from writers and magazines such as TIME. My own view follows after the synopsis presented from the book below:


My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer.

This is Susie Salmon, speaking to us from heaven. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. There are counsellors to help newcomers to adjust, and friends to room with. Everything she wants appears as soon as she thinks of it- except the thing she wants most: to be back with the people she loved on earth.

Book cover

My take:

Some stories start with death and some end with it. This story starts, ends, dwells, picks apart and ultimately tries to understand what death is and what goes on after a person dies. Not in the sense of what happens to the soul etc. But it defines death in terms of living people and what they go through to come to terms with it, if there is such a thing as coming to terms with death.

At the start, Susie is murdered very very brutally, so much so that the method would benefit a horror story more than a novel, but this proves to be the very showcase of the authors skill; for she speaks about the death and what went on before, during and after with a remarkably simplistic approach and dialogue.

The story deals with Susie watching the earth and all of her loved ones from high in heaven, while her family, friends and neighbours try to bring normalcy into their lives. She watches as people she had not held close during her life reel back in shock at her death and never truly recover from it. Her high school crush, the girl she once spoken to, her younger brother and sister, the grandmother she had never really liked or understood during her time on earth all are deeply affected by her death and they move on in their own ways.

Her siblings grow up, fall in love, do those things she had never had a chance to do in her life and she sorely wishes to be back on earth and experience those for herself. She knows has to move on and start living in heaven where she now belongs but all she can do is sit and watch earth, not unlike her father whose life is put on hold to search for justice for her daughter. She thinks of her childhood, all those small incidents she never took note of but how they were signs for what was happening to her family now.

Anyone who likes fiction, emotional thrillers (if that is even a genre) should give this a try.

People who tend to dislike books dealing with sexual assault, family ties, relationships and such should steer clear.

Except for a certain part where Susie enters the world again via a rather eccentric route (to say the least), I would say this book was a good read for me and that I enjoyed it. What I liked the most was the fact that the author lets the reader figure out the deeper details by themselves and I like not having everything underlined and overstated.

Happy reading!