Her name was Susie Salmon, murdered at the age of 14, in 1973. There’s no way not to reveal this it’s the first sentence of the book after all.
The murderer, her neighbor Mr. Harvey, a complete sociopath, even offers the family his condolences and tells them he hopes that they find who did it. But that’s what sociopaths do right?
Reading this book felt like reading an article in the newspaper about children being murdered by psychopathic and sociopathic assholes. This book will bring you to tears, anger, hope, and then it will show you the love and healing that is necessary to overcome such a tragedy.
It’s not uncommon for us to believe that bad things do not happen to good people, but our logical minds will tell us don’t kid yourself because of course, bad things happen to good people all the time. In The Lovely Bones, this is driven home to us in disturbing and shattering ways.
Reading a book where the murder victim is telling you the story makes it even harder to read it without feeling the emotions mentioned earlier. From her heaven, she watches the murderer dispose of her body, sees the suffering of her family who has to cope without not even having her body for a proper burial.
My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to once about fertilizer. My murderer believed in old-fashioned things like eggshells and coffee grounds, which he said his own mother had used. My father came home smiling, making jokes about how the man’s garden might be beautiful but it would stink to high heaven once a heat wave hit.
The novel has a creepy, unsettling beauty about it, especially in the first half, where we learn a great deal about Susie’s murder and her family. With Susie, trying to figure out why it all happened, why she isn’t going to grow up and fulfill her dreams. I think we would all wonder why trusting our neighbor should end up with us being raped and murdered.
Looking down on her family from her heaven Susie watch her family with longing and growing compassion, as they get through their grief and anger and begin to mend their broken beings. Wishing that she could have done all the things that her siblings and friends got to do. Not being able to grow up is something we all want for ourselves and those around us.
As a ghost, I wished Susie had the power to carry out her vengeance against that bastard. But as we already know, the dead has no power over the living. The Lovely Bones is an inconceivable nightmare that can happen to anyone, at any time. We live in a world that is all beautiful and all nightmarish at times.
I must admit that while I was reading this book back and forth on the subway, tears would come unbidden to my eyes. Ya, I did get a few stares and concerned looks. Well as I said before, this book is quite emotional. So brace yourself for a heart-wrenching ride.
The film adaptation of The Lovely Bones starring Mark Wahlberg as Jack Salmon, Stanley Tucci as George Harvey, Rachel Weisz as Abigail Salmon, Saoirse Ronan as Susie, Susan Sarandon as Susie’s grandmother, Lynn and Rose McIver as Lindsey Salmon, was released in December 2009.
Learn more about Alice Seabold and her other books.