The Lovely Bones

ISBN: 0330485385
ISBN 13: 9780330485388
By: Alice Sebold

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Genres

Book Club Contemporary Crime Currently Reading Fantasy Favorites Fiction Mystery To Read Young Adult

About this book

The critically acclaimed international bestseller -- 'Moving and compelling ... It will put an imperceptible but stealthily insistent hold on you.' Maggie O'Farrell, Sunday Telegrap

Reader's Thoughts

Carolynn

I worked at Borders for more than a year and I worked the boring ass registers, usually at night whic was always slow. I leaned there with my chin in my hand staring at the shelves actually wishing that I could help customers in their purchases. It's purely insane, but I think that's what happens anytime you place someone in any kind of confinement. The thing is that if I wasn't a register girl, I would have constant actual contact with the books themselves. All lunacy aside, one book that I stared at the entire time was this one, cuz it was literally on the number one shelf in the front of the store for a good two years or so. It sounded interesting and got good critical reviews despite its sucess with the bookish Oprah-watching housewife types. So, I REALLY didn't wanna jump on the bandwagon and read it. But at the same time I would open it and try. But I just didn't get into it. Last week or so, I was reading a friend's blog and she talked about reading the book and how it was so affecting that she found herself driving to work in complete tears. From then on an invisible seed had been planted. I went to the library the other day to pay my fines ($2.75! Man.) and suddenly remembered the book. I read it in three nights. Sebold's voice is entirely unique. Never seen it before ever. I think that being allowed into the vision and point of view of another person is probably one of the awesomest feelings ever. I think that's what it is to be in love, actually. Get in someone's skin, sit in a recliner in a little theatre located behind their eye sockets, and just watch. Not judge, not worry, not affect. Just experience someone who is so not you. Sebold allows this on two levels. She sets you up in the front row seat right next to Susie the murdered and raped 14 year old while she watches her former world from Heaven. But she also delivers this language that is new, original, totally fresh and yet entirely accessible. At 3am. In bed. From a free city library borrow.Her characters are completely amazing individuals, but not unreal or impossible. The way she wrote the book, from Suzie's viewpoint, was definitely some work on her part. And she pulls it off. What I really enjoyed is the way she would sneak in these little pieces of info - I call them " 'omg, are you serious?' mystery info nuggets". She would just be writing a scene, and at an unsuspecting moment she'd just add in a little sentence. And ofcourse, since the story revolves around the grief of the family and the Susie's unsolved case, their are moment of utter thrill as the reader joins the characters in their search for understanding, motive and the killer himself. The sentences feel like when you've been looking for something non-urgent for a while, and it's not really a big deal to find it now or later, but when you do find it your like, 'Man, now I can do this, and this and that, cuz I finally found this thing that I've been inactively searching for for a while'. So, the nuggets definitely keep you reading and sometimes they even make you say, 'omg' out loud. As always, if you read the first few pages and hate it, then don't force the feeling. Just cuz I thought it was a total modern classic, don't mean anything if it really ain't your thing. Either way, truly a great story, even if your mom thinks so too.

S C Tisdale

This is easily the worst book I've ever read in my entire life. SPOILER ALERT: She comes back from heaven to bang the guy she liked.If you like this book, then you hate literature. It's that simple. I'm not joking. Do not read this book.

Steven

This was the book that made me realise the serious flaw in the theory that if lots of people you see on the tube are reading a book, it must be good. I would say with some confidence that this is the worst book I've ever read in my entire life.The only thing that kept me going to the end was sheer bloody-mindedness; a determination not to be defeated by any book no matter how brain-deflatingly awful it is. That said, the endless cloying sentimentality in this almost made me throw it in the bin on several occasions, and it contains the single worst simile I've ever encountered in an entire lifetime of book-reading.

Trevor

I liked this book quite a bit. I found it to be a well-crafted story that kept me engaged all the way through. From the very first chapter where she depicts her own murder and subsequent ascent to "heaven," I thought it was extremely well-written. I also thought it provided an interesting perspective on grief and mourning as the remaining family members try to cope with their sudden loss. For anyone who's pondered the happenings of the afterlife, this book provides a unique ripple that's fresh, interesting and thought-provoking.

midnightfaerie

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold was an amazing book and well written. It’s about a teenage girl who is killed and stays on earth as a ghost to watch over her family. Portrayal of a 14 yr old as she matures as a ghost over the years is excellent. Description of heaven gave me a new perspective of how it might really be. I don’t generally like sad books, but this might be worth reading to those looking for something a little deeper with a storyline to keep you interested. She lives vicariously through her younger sister quite a bit, which is interesting since it isn’t really her life. Overall, I thought it was a good read. Don’t know if I liked it enough to recommend it, but it definitely wasn’t bad. I liked how it flowed from one thought to another even if that thought was about something that happened years ago and two seconds later we were back at the murder scene. I also think it’s worth comparing the book to the movie, which I rented immediately after finishing the book. Obviously the movie never contains everything from the book. Those people out there that look for the same experience in a movie that they received from the book will always be disappointed. It’s a different medium, therefore it will be expressed differently. Book is much more graphic that the movie. For example, in the movie, the girl gets her first kiss when she goes into the body of Ruth. In the book, when she goes into Ruth’s body she ends up staying for awhile and makes love to Ray quite a few times. In the book, also, it goes into some detail about her rape, whereas the movie glosses over this. These are just small differences. There are others. One thing I really enjoyed about the movie was the imagery they used to portray her heaven. Beautiful, something you can only get from a movie. I do wish some of the smaller details had been added such as her reunion with her dog and how he was one of the few that could see her when others couldn’t. But I love dogs and thought that added to the story. The book also went into great detail about Ruth and her ability to see how people died and how she journaled it. I wish they would have expanded on her character a bit. There were some small differences like the event that brought back the mother, but nothing significant enough to change the feel of the story. The biggest and probably only thing that really bothered me was the time difference. In the book, Suzie watched her family for years and years. For example, her sister graduated from college, got married and had a baby in the book, but in the movie, not as much time passed. For example, I noticed throughout the movie, they used lines read directly from the book to stay true to the story. Well, one they used at the end shouldn’t have been used, especially since they didn’t stay true to the time difference. I’ll quote it here, “You don’t notice the dead leaving when they really choose to leave you. You’re not meant to. At most you feel them as a whisper or the wave of a whisper undulating down.” Undulating is not a word that a 14 yr old uses. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard an adult use it. It’s a great word which has its uses in a literary text, but doesn’t make sense coming from a child. The Suzie in the book says this after years and years of observing her family and you’re not really sure how many years have passed, but it’s almost as she’s an adult in maturity with everything’s she’s went through. So it fit beautifully. However, in the movie, the time difference wasn’t there, and it seemed as if the story ended with the girl still being 14 yrs old. So the line didn’t fit. I guess not a big deal but it bothered me. Didn’t fit with the consistency of the story they were trying to show in the movie. In any case, both the book is worth reading and the movie worth watching for their own interpretations. ClassicsDefined.com

Tracy

** spoiler alert ** not generally the sort of book i read, but it surprisingly hooked me in. i'm not sure it was exactly good, but i really couldn't put it down, so there's something to be said for that. my main problem with it was that it was just really unsatisfying in some ways... there's no wrapping up of loose ends. i mean really (and there are spoilers ahead, so watch out), the murderer gets away with it? they never find her body!? that was soooooo frusterating, especially since i'm a big fan of things like cold case files and stuff like that (i mean, how great would it have been if he'd gotten caught like 10 years later at the end of the book? that would have made it about a million times better). and although i kind of enjoyed sebold's interpretation of heaven (my very favorite part was when susie's dog died and joined her in heaven), but it was just a little creepy at the end where susie possesses ruth and gets it on with her pre-teen crush. plus, kind of weird, especially seeing as how ruth is a lesbian, she and the boy are buddies, and the main character was the victim of a sex crime. i know ruth had special abilities and all that, but i think fingering the killer would have been a better use of them.also, i really think i have to point out how strikingly similar the opening line of the book is to teen fiction; specifically, it brings to mind THE LAST VAMPIRE by christopher pike. mind you, i haven't read christopher pike since i was 13, but from what i remember that series (told in first person by the last vampire herself) started pretty much exactly the same way. i think he also had a book told in the first person by a dead girl who possessed the body of a friend of hers, so it's not exactly revolutionary. which isn't neccessarily a bad way to start, but a little bit obvious. anyway, it was a strangely entralling book, but i think it might a bit similar to the davinci code, in that it seems really good while you're reading it, but then afterward you realize it actually was sort of less than it should have been.

Jennifer Wardrip

Reviewed by Cana Rensberger for TeensReadToo.comTHE LOVELY BONES will haunt you. This book tells the story of the most horrific thing a family could ever endure, the murder of a loved one, a child. The child is 14-year-old Susie Salmon. We see the murder through her eyes, after she is killed. Susie narrates her story from heaven, a place like I'd not before imagined. Her heaven begins as her school playground. Slowly it grows to become more. Susie merely longs for something she misses from earth, and it appears, except, of course, the living. Although she can watch her loved ones, know what they are doing, thinking, and feeling, she cannot be with them, or they with her. The book begins with the emotional, frightening, and vividly shown homicide. Through Susie's eyes, we understand how he tricked her. We feel her terror as we realize, with her, what's about to happen. Then the scene moves to another, equally heartbreaking moment, three days later when a neighbor's dog finds a body part. You would think, at this point, that you wouldn't be able to read further, that you'd close the book and never reopen it. But you won't be able to. Like Susie, we want to know her family will be okay. We want to know the killer won't get away with it. The author, Alice Sebold, artfully forces you to read on. Susie watches her friends whisper about her at school. She watches as her younger sister, Lindsey, hardens to stone. Her four-year-old brother, Buckley, is passed from neighbor to neighbor, having sleepovers, told his sister has just gone away for a bit. She listens to the detective, Len, tell her parents the inevitable, that they are now investigating her disappearance as a murder. Her family slowly begins to crumble and Susie can do nothing to help. This sounds like a suffocating, depressing book, but as you read you'll feel encouraged as Susie's family begins to move on, never to forget, but to begin to live life without her. Buckley struggles to understand the meaning of forever. Susie's dad becomes obsessed with proving he's not crazy, that he's certain who killed his daughter. Susie's mom handles the stress by hiding from it. And Lindsey, known as the girl whose sister was murdered, strives to find herself again. She searches for love. And she takes a huge risk to help her dad flush out the killer. The ending is incredibly sweet. Amazing as it may seem, you will feel Susie's joy as she lets go of those she's left behind. For me, the ending wasn't perfect, it left me wanting, but I imagine that was deliberate. Life itself is not perfect. But life has hope. And that's the feeling that will stay with you as you turn the last page. It's a memorable read, not for the faint of heart. Expect to feel. To fear, to cry, and, yes, to laugh. THE LOVELY BONES will touch the very core of your being. Alice Sebold has written beautifully of the ugliest scenario possible. Wow.

kensou09

Alice Sebold's haunting and heartbreaking debut novel, The Lovely Bones, unfolds from heaven, where "life is a perpetual yesterday" and where Susie, a girl raped and murdered at the age of 14, narrates and keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case, struggling to accept her death while as well as clinging to the lost world of the living.The book started out strong, but it fizzled completely in the middle. Sebold kept giving hints of a great story, but fell short with endless, boring, inconsequential details and a lack of detail when it really mattered. Call me unimaginative, but I don't like when a writer leaves important details to the readers imagination. Spell it out for me.Being an avid mystery/horror story lover, and reading my fair share of books regarding the "great beyond", I didn't get the feeling she had enough knowledge to adequately write about such topics. Her clues and climaxes went nowhere and it left me with more questions than answers. She would draw me in with these little details I thought she's expand on, and never did.If you're not a very sentimental person, don't buy this book. If you're the type of person that likes closure at the end of the story, don't read this book. If you're looking for a wonderful view of heaven and the "great beyond", don't read the book.Anyway, it's just my advice. Opinion depends upon each reader's point of view.

Meg ♥

Let me start this off by saying that I really wanted to like this book. Although the subject of a little girl being brutally raped and murdered is extremely disturbing I thought it would be interesting to read about her in the afterlife as she watched her family try to solve her murder.There is not much that I can even say without giving things away, but I did not like this book at all. I still had about 50 pages to go before I stopped reading this, and I may go back and finish it, but for now I just couldn't take any more. Everyone knows I am usually really into dark and disturbing books, but reading about her family moving on and knowing that the killer was right there was just something I could not handle. I felt very bored at certain parts too, and found my mind wandering, but I'm not sure if the book was genuinely boring or if my mind just wanted to escape the thoughts of it.About the rating. I did not give this one star because I felt it was a poorly written book or even a bad book. I know quite a few people who loved this book, and think of it as a 5 star gem, and I can understand why. It just wasn't for me.

Jessica

"These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections – sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at a great cost, but often magnificent – that happened after I was gone."I hardly ever read books when they are first released. I always seem to be a few years behind, for whatever reason. Sometimes this works to my advantage, as it allows me to avoid a degree of hype that surrounds certain books. I do remember seeing the blue cover of The Lovely Bones on shelves in every bookstore when it was released a few years ago and seeing mentions on best-sellers lists. But I didn’t take much interest in it because, sometimes, when a book/movie/album gets so many rave reviews, I’ll expect it to blow me through the roof and will end up disappointed when it’s only mildly entertaining or moving (see: The Time Traveler’s Wife).I prefer to go in with low expectations and let myself be surprised with greatness. Not that I’m a bitter person or anything. Not at all. Ok, I’m working on it.Anyway, I was visiting my tiny local library for the first time, searching for a book to check out, when I saw the blue spine peaking out from the shelf. Since I had already read the few classics they had in stock, and don’t really go for Harlequin romance, I took Alice Sebold home with me. Much to my surprise, I finished the book in a day’s time. It wasn’t so much Sebold’s writing style, which is good but not spectacular, or even the tinges of mystery in the plot that captivated me. It was the raw human emotion that she so perfectly conveyed through each character. The characters felt real—both their positive qualities and their shortcomings. The pain, confusion, regret, and maybe even hope that they each felt in their own ways really impacted me. The Lovely Bones is the story of a young girl who is raped and murdered in her neighborhood. She speaks to the reader from her version of heaven (it can be different for each person), and looks over her family as they unravel after the tragic event. Perhaps it had something to do with my already delicate state (I was home sick while reading) but the book managed to make me cry. More than once. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that, and the book snob in me would prefer to believe I am “above” sentimental plot devices, but to be honest—the book is just really sad.I also liked the subtle message of hope that carries through the novel, without reading like a “Chicken Soup” book. The ending isn’t the overly hokey “I will survive” type, and still has a shade of melancholy, but seems to say that even through utter grief and personal devastation, life goes on.

Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh

It’s the supporting characters that make this book so memorable. Her distracted mother with the ocean eyes, her friend Ruth who’s soul she continues to touch from her heaven; her eccentric alcoholic grandma Lynn; her brilliant sister Lindsey; but most poignant of all her father Jack Salmon who just doesn’t know how to let go of his little girl. Imaginative, original, thoughtful; just a great story. "Our only kiss was like an accident- a beautiful gasoline rainbow.”

Sarah

The Lovely Bones has got to be the most baffling, poorly written, jaw-droppingly bad book that I have ever set my eyes on. It is truly a black, black tragedy that the words in this book were placed in that particular order, published, and distributed. How could this have ever possibly been popular? Is it for the same reason that the song “My Humps” hit number one? I mean, I don’t technically believe in burning books, but this novel really got me thinking. About burning it.If it serves any use at all, it might be a perfect guide on how not to write a book. Here are some of my gripes, problems and issues that we can hopefully use to prevent something like this from ever happening again to us, our children, or our children’s children:It is filled with some of the worst sentence-level writing that I have ever encountered. From bad description to horrible grammar to utterly confusing metaphors, Sebold covered it all. A tell-tale way to spot a weak writer? They can’t stop weirdly describing people’s eyes. Don’t believe me? Try this sentence: “Her eyes were like flint and flower petals.” Or this one: “The tears came like a small relentless army approaching the front lines of her eyes. She asked for coffee and toast in a restaurant and buttered it with her tears.” Really? She buttered the coffee and toast with her tears? Or this one, this time about someone’s heart: “Her heart, like a recipe, was reduced.” What the hell?And here’s my favorite eye description in the book: “Her pupils dilated, pulsing in and out like small, ferocious olives.” That’s right. Ferocious olives. I’ve read MadLibs that make more sense than that.It seems to lack a plot. You know, that thing that books are supposed to have. I’ll never forget my first workshop with Brady Udall, in which he threw my story onto the table and said, “This isn’t a story, Sarah, it’s a situation.” And as much as I despaired when I got home, he was right. Sebold has the same problem: her book is a really long situation. A girl dies and watches her family from heaven. Okay. That’s nice. But what do the characters want? What drives the story forward? Nothing. The characters get older and keep bumping into each other. Things change, and things often do, but there is no forward movement and certainly no building of suspense.Since there’s no plot, the ending is just a bunch of weird stuff happening. I read the last thirty pages on the train this morning, and couldn’t stop a few outbursts: “Oh, no she didn’t!” I’d say, talking to Alice Sebold and her crazy ways. She is just plain bold when it comes to doing whatever she feels like, and she feels like doing the weirdest stuff ever. It’s not that I don’t want to write spoilers here, it’s that I can’t even explain to you what happened at the end of the book. And I bet she can’t either. I’m not exaggerating.Her characters never have interesting or complex thoughts. Not even the serial killer or the mother whose daughter was murdered. It seems that Sebold’s characters do one of two things: they laugh (which means they are happy) or cry (to butter their toast, somehow, when they are sad). As you might guess, there is a lot of laughing and crying in this book. When a character is confused, they laugh and cry at the same time. This also happens often.I feel a little better after venting. But I’m still deeply sad and angry. I feel like my own writing might have been permanently damaged by reading this book… like a couple of… ferocious… olives?

Suyana

"The Lovely Bones," had me crying from start to finish. This book is extremely emotion packed. But this book was interestingly written because it's from the point of view from a girl who was murdered. The book starts like this: "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Already you want to read it; right? You follow the life that this young girl once had as she tells you about the memories she had, the things she learned, and the people she loved. Susie also talks about her "heaven." In her heaven, Susie does not let her family and friends go. She follows them through the years, watching her younger sister Lindsey does everything that she would have done if she was alive. Susie can't let her family go, and they see her everywhere; in the valley where she was killed; in her fathers work room. It makes you value your family when you read about the devastation they were left with. I especially was sympathetic for her father. Through out the book you can see how difficult it was for him to realize and begin to let go of the fact that his first born had been killed. It's hard to imagine losing a child, but from reading this book I’ve begun to realize that it's a kind of sorrow that can only be felt by a parent. If you are in the mood for reading a depressing story then this book is definitely for you.The diction that Alice Sebold uses creates clear visuals in my head of what it was that Susie saw, and what she felt like being dead. You invision her family members and the environment that Susie had once been in. Another things that made me like this book so much was the fact that there were details that were used to help describe Susie that were also about me. A simple once was the fact that she was reading Othello in school. The use of details to develope the characters are very well done by Alice Sebold.

Kim

Wow. I'm surprised that there was so much animosity towards this book (from the reviews here on Good Reads). Even if I didn't like it, I don't think I'd find so much in it to HATE it. The approach is different, which some might call trite or some call imaginative. I think I just liked Susie. She spoke what was on her mind, the perspective was fresh and the subject wasn't typical. Maybe this was a product of hype? I hadn't heard of it until a few friends recommended it to me last week. It took me a few hours to read and I enjoyed it. I won't rave on it, but I appreciate a good story.

Claire Greene

This book has single handedly shown me that I spend too much time skimming and not enough time really reading and thinking about the books I have been reading. I have two kids and so I'm busy and I often find myself reading when I am stealing time or tired. But that is not even an excuse for this book. When i read the book I thought it was pretty good. Not great, but not bad. I liked the concept and the fact that the girl was the narrator. I like a murder mystery, so I liked the suspense of waiting to see if the guy would get caught, etc. So when all was said and done and I finished the book, I thought - yeah, okay. Not bad, but not great. Then I went online here and read the other reviews, particularly one by TheDane (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/16...) and I went - HEY!! That's right! I mean, the writing alone is something I should have picked up one had I really been paying attention. Pupils pulsing like olives?? Buttering toast with tears?? Umm... I really must have been distracted or skimming like crazy because that is ridiculous. And the real meaning of the final scene went WAY over my head, which I am somewhat ashamed to admit. When I read it, I really was like, yeah yeah, oh that's sweet she got one night with her boyfriend which she had been cheated of and all. But when you slow down and really think of this, the enormity of that is overwhelming. A young girl who dies after being RAPED. A girl who's first sexual experience was RAPE by an older man. A girl who actually barely knew this boy in her life. This girl can only let go of life after having sex. With that boy. That she really didn't know that well. That alone is enough to send of some big alarms. But then you add that she was allowed to go back to earth - to have sex??? Not see her family, not comfort her father and brother and sister? Not point out the killer?? Nope, heaven lets her go back, then of all times, not earlier when she wanted it more, or could have done more both for justice and her family? So the admission to heaven is teen sex? Really? The way to overcome deep grief and gain acceptance and peace is.. again, teen sex? Wow. I missed out as a teen because that was NOT my experience. Okay, now louder warning bells should have been going off. But the final issue - she takes over the body of a "friend". Without the girl's knowledge or permission. The "friend" who is a lesbian. And uses her body to have sex with a boy. Just taking over her body is a violation. Taking over her body and using that time to have sex is another violation. And to have sex with a boy, knowing that is the antithesis of everything this "friend" would have wanted or agreed to is yet another violation. What the hell??? And none of that gets brought up or mentioned. No, it is a feel good ending. yeah! I mean, I have some pretty close friends - some I have known for at least triple the time these two girls have "known" each other - and if I somehow managed to just steal their bodies and have sex with a woman?? Well, it would be good for me that I was already dead. That is a betrayal in the worst sense on so many levels it is shocking. And what of the possible consequences? Pregnancy? STDs? Never mind the "lesser" consequences of emotional damage, damage to their friendship, the trust issues, etc etc etc????? After thinking about it more and more, I was truly embarrassed to have not seen these dark and disturbing connotations, made all the worse for the fact that the author serves this up as the feel good ending - not noticing the irony at all of having the main character who was raped and violated in turn rape and violate a friend, while denouncing the first act as a heinous crime and lauding the second act as happy ending? So in short, I have learned my lesson and I am now making more of an effort to truly read and then think about what I am reading!!!

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