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 is 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.
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