The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Published: 1st September 2006Goodreads badge
Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 323
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Since I mentioned this book in a previous review I thought I should post it up as well. This was another one of those books that tried to get turned into a movie successfully. I won’t say it failed exactly, I rather enjoyed the movie, however when you read the book there is so much more going on, and a lot more gets covered. This, I think, makes it a much better book than movie.

The Lovely Bones is the story about Susie Salmon, like the fish.  It tells the story of a young girl who watches those she left behind struggle to cope and accept her death. This is a touching story, it wasn’t over emotional but it was not heartless either. There are no gruesome descriptions exactly, but there is violence and adult themes.

Having this told through a young girl she sees what she sees and makes assumptions and deductions with no great analysis of an adult. Her insights are still quite sound but there is a hint of the teenager and young girl as well. It does not look like a long book but it covers many years and within that we see a lot change as the world passes Susie by. There are no other points of view but Susie’s focus does follow other people she knew besides her family and watches their lives evolve as well.

It is an interesting concept everyone going into this limbo/heaven place. Susie gets to control where she goes and what she sees, as far as I could tell it could be anything she wanted. There are other people in the world as well and Susie interacts with them, but she does spent the majority of her time watching her family and friends on Earth. We are not told a lot about where she is or whether this is the final place but you do not pay a lot of attention to the why or how, you focus more on watching and seeing everything Susie sees. There is a sense of anticipation, Susie’s death is not an accident and as the days and weeks and years go by you wait and hope to see whether her killer will be punished. As readers we know who has killed her, as does Susie, and we watch with her as clues are given and hidden, and we wait anxiously for justice to be served, if at all, Sebold teases us with where the story goes.

Unfortunately about halfway through the book I found myself waiting for it to end, only to realise I still had a lot more to go. It was not because it was boring or annoying exactly, more the fact it seemed to be dragged out unnecessarily as a space or time filler than a plot requirement. I did keep going and as I neared the actual end I did rethink my early observation and concluded that perhaps while it seemed unneeded it may have actually been just enough. There was a concluding feel that wasn’t rushed, technically if you wanted to, you could say it was always a conclusion from page one, the whole thing was about the aftermath of death and that takes time. It was realistic time and time that was detailed and in-depth so in that sense no you can’t just rush through the middle bits.

Sebold concludes this with respect to the reader who has sat and followed these lives and the ending is satisfactory in my mind. It wasn’t a life changing book, or something spectacular, but it was well done and successfully told.