Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The first chapter begins with these words "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." So it continues. It is the story (fiction) of Susie Salmon, her family, friends, and other sundry characters, including that of her murderer, as seen through her eyes from her place in the beyond. She watches as her family deteriorates under the stress while the murderer goes uncaught, as those she had known react in different ways to her gruesome death. Beyond this I will say no more. I have already been told by one of the readers that this book is on their list too and I will not spoil it for them.

I found the book interesting for its insights into the grief process as it happened in the family, but generally I found the book disturbing on several different levels. It seemed obvious that the author had unresolved issues of some kind and that this story was her attempt at catharsis. After reading the book, in an attempt to understand better where she could be coming from, I read her story, and the source of the demons that haunt the book seemed to become quite clear. I am not, in any way, trying to minimize or trivialize the author's pain. What happened to her was outrageous and I pray that she will one day find peace.

All things considered, I wish I hadn't read this book. Once images are in one's mind, they cannot be removed and my overall feeling when finished was deep sadness. I was surprised to learn that this was considered a book for young adults. Beyond the suggestion that young people can get into trouble by their lack of worldly experience, I felt the book was inappropriate in the way it handled other moral issues.


  1. I had heard this book contained some fairly disturbing images. I wonder how they treated those in the new movie based on the book that is coming out.
    Would you recommend I read up on the author before reading this book to get a better understanding of some of the content?

  2. It is true that this book does have disturbing descriptions, but I feel like this lends to it being more realistic. Knowing Sebold's biography, I feel like this book was true to herself and allowed her to write so wonderfully.

    As for the movie adapatation, all gruesome details (save a "plain old murder") have been left out, to better suit all audiences. Yes, this book is geared towards young adults; in fact, I was one when I first read this book in an advanced sociology class, and the controversy surrounding the book - in a curriculum nonetheless - was full-blown.

    I define a good book by how long it stays with me afterwards - and I can truly say I can count these on one hand. The Lovely Bones is one of these said books.

    All that said, I am glad to have read a review in which the reader was saddended by the story as I was, regardless of it's ingenuity.


  3. That's a great opening sentence for a book, isn't it? The rest of it sounds pretty gruesome, though. Yikes. :(

  4. http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/articles/2010/01/15/peter_jackson_gets_the_small_fragile_story_of_the_lovely_bones_all_wrong/