[Review] The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Title of Book: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Publisher: Picador
Publication Year: 2002
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 213

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. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone.


Susie Salmon was on her way home when her neighbor, George Harvey, called her to show something that he built. It didn’t end well. It was a ruse to lure Susie so he could rape and murder her. Harvey did a good job in hiding the body that nobody really know what happened to Susie. This story is told by Susie, from heaven. As she observed how her family coped with her death, we’ll learn the truth behind her murder and the people affected by it.
Although the summary may make Lovely Bones sounds like a murder mystery/ thriller book, it’s not. It focuses more on the family of the victim and the people around her. We already know from early on who murdered her and how it happened. But throughout the book we’ll learn how her parents dealt with the fact that she went missing and since there’s no body found, they never really get a closure.
People handle the loss of their loved one differently. That’s also the case with Susie’s family. Her mother wanted to move on and refuse to be swallowed in the grief, while her father was obsessed with finding out the murderer of his daughter. Her father’s obsessions reached the point where he endangered himself, his other daughter, and drove his wife away. It’s sad and truly heartbreaking. Whenever I watch a crime movie or series, there’s always a police officer or FBI agent whose motivation to solve the case is for the sake of the victim’s family. Reading this book, I get that now. I understand why it’s important for the family to get a closure. It’s the not knowing that’s hurting them more because it feels as if there’s a hope, like the missing person might be okay and might come back home.
This book can also be considered as fantasy because of its depiction of the afterlife. Still, I believe this book to be as realistic as it could be when dealing with the victim’s family. I feel this book successfully captures that aspect. It centers on the emotional state of each family member. It might drag the pacing down, but I feel it’s necessary.
Lovely Bones is a quite difficult read; it’s not that it’s confusing or weird. It touches on difficult subject and a harsh reality that it could happen to anyone. Your neighbor might have a skeleton in his/ her closet; literally, in Susie’s case. It’s a compelling read if you’re interested to see the other side of a missing person/ murder case. If you’re looking for a thrilling murder mystery read though, this is not the right book for it.

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