I read this book back in 2003. I remember buying the hardcover from a random book shop in D.C. (can't recall the name of the store) and started to read this book while on a bus heading back from the Pentagon metro stop. Within an hour I was in tears and just read it until I finished it sometime before dawn. This book grabbed me back when I was 23 and it still grabbed me more than a decade and a half later at 38. Sebold wrote this book in response to being raped and she takes all of that pain and anger and wrote something that I believe will eventually be considered a classic. That said there are some nits here and there in the book that don't work, she has the main character at one point inhabit someone's body and I don't even want to discuss it anymore cause it was weird and off-putting. The only really false step I got while reading this.
"The Lovely Bones" is about 14 year old Susie Salmon who tells you about how she came to be raped and murdered. Her bones (the lovely bones in this story) are hidden and her family has to deal with the fallout from her disappearance. When a part of Susie is eventually found, her family then has to deal with knowing she is murdered and nver coming home. Sebold provides updates on via Susie about her family, the man who raped and murdered her, as well as a boy she had a crush on before her death.
Susie's character was heartbreaking. Reading about her rape and murder was awful. You want to reach into the pages and keep her safe. I kept wishing for a different ending while reading this book. When Susie is gone, her soul races off to her own personal heaven and from there she keeps an eye on things. Parts of the book made me cry a lot. Reading about Susie meeting and hanging out with her grandfather and the other friends she makes in heaven are wonderful.
Susie's sister Lindsey is dealing with having suspicions on the man she believes killed her sister and trying to hold on to her family as they slowly disintegrate. The younger brother Buckley is having to adjust to having a family that he remembers before Susie disappeared to after where everything seems to be focused on her.
I didn't really like Susie's mother. I get people act to grief in different ways, but how she chose to deal with things made me feel sad. I do applaud Sebold though for not trying to sugarcoat things and also for the family to not rush to bring her back into the family fold.
The writing was poetic at times. Sebold has a very strong grasp of words. I could picture everything that was happening perfectly (sometimes too perfectly).
“My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered.”
“Murderers are not monsters, they're men. And that's the most frightening thing about them.”
The flow for the most part was really good. Things just got slow towards the end in my opinion. You are just wanting to get to the end.
The setting of the book takes place in Pennsylvania in the 1970s and then through the next few decades.
The ending comes for a whisper almost with Susie starting to move on, but still watching her family. She wishes the reader a long and happy life.