Title: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Date Added: September 23, 2012
Date Started: March 24, 2018
Date DNF: March 24, 2018
Reading Duration: 1 day
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Supernatural
The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder — a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family’s need for peace and closure.
The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.
Sebold creates a heaven that’s calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive — and then some. But Susie isn’t ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature.
I bought this to read with the hopes the end of the book wasn’t the same as the ending of the movie, that the filmmakers took some strange liberties and Sebold did write a comeuppance for the piece of shit pedophile-murderer who lured Susie to her assault and death.
Him dying at the end from a random piece of ice falling off as he attempts to lure another young woman isn’t the point. No one ever discovers it was him who raped and killed Susie Salmon. Her parents never find out what happened to her, and that’s just not justice to me. He never has to face up to what he did, and I suppose a counterpoint to this would be that if there’s a Heaven in Sebold’s world for Susie then there’s certainly a Hell for her killer.
Even if it was “street” justice with Susie’s father or mother beating the ever-loving shit out of him and/or to death, it would’ve been better than him just dying randomly after getting away with her and potentially other murders.
The novel’s writing is enchanting, and I disagree with the killjoys bashing Sebold’s descriptive language. If you don’t like purple prose and eloquence, recognize your preference and move on. I personally love the evocative imagery prosaic words can bring.