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

Emily May

After hearing all the hype about this book, I couldn't wait to read it and discover how amazing it is for myself. I was greatly disappointed.How has this book become such a worldwide success? It's slow, boring and there is no real connection with any of the characters. I found myself disliking everyone in the book.The overall idea could have been very good, even though it isn't exactly original, but I just thought the author didn't make the most of this great idea that she had. The best part of the book, without meaning to sound gruesome and morbid, was the death scene at the beginning. I admit that it was creepy and well told, I read that and geared myself up for a good book. But for me, it was as if the story ended there and the rest was a load of slow-moving waffle. The great idea had come along, happened for a while, and then died a painful death with the protagonist. The characters weren't interesting enough to hold up the rest of the story, I was just relieved when I finally got to the end. It was a painfully boring book... and I've lost count of the times people have told me how much they love it - why? Did I miss something? I honestly feel like I've read a completely different book from everyone else... I do not understand it's popularity at all.

Seth Hahne

** spoiler alert ** One book, two rapes. How's that for a bargain? (The book only advertises one.) Yuck.The book in question is Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. I'm not giving anything away by saying it's a book about a girl (the narrator) who was murdered. That's revealed in the book's second sentence. It's also not a big deal to let you know she was raped and murdered by a neighbour, George Harvey. That all is related pretty early on. What isn't revealed until maybe the last fifty pages is that the girl herself, Susie Salmon, becomes a rapist.Ideologically, I'm not certain which one is worse. I could be persuaded.But the way the book presents the two incidents is markedly different. One is revealed in low lights and has a horror edge to it. It's seen unilaterally as an evil, wicked deed. The other is the book's highlight, the moment at which the author breathes a sigh of relief and says that everything else made right. I suppose it makes sense; the narrator probably wouldn't see her actions for what they were. But in the end, both George and Susie deal with their childhood victimizations in that manner typical to the criminal genre these days.Both George and Susie had horrible things happen in their formative years that leave long-lasting scars. The only difference is that George Harvey lived and Susie Salmon died. Not that it makes much difference. Susie is as alive a character as George for the purposes of the story. They both want what they want and care little for the well-being of the women who get in their way. The difference is that George Harvey is portrayed as the villain he is, while little Susie Salmon is treated as a hero.Those who have read the book may not have even noticed Susie's complete abandonment of moral sense or care for the woman she violates. After all, she doesn't exactly couch things in those terms. So here it is, laid out for you.When Susie was alive, there was a boy who liked her, Ray. In the years after her death, Ray grows up to be, in the narrator's view, an attractive young man. She watches him and loves him. Somehow, events conspire to allow Susie to possess the body of Ruth, a friend of Ray's. Susie uses the opportunity to seduce Ray and they make love several times in the course of a few hours. And then Susie has to go back to heaven. Leaving Ruth, a victim of Susie's power over her body.Imagine that you're Ruth. You wake up. Naked. Probably a little tender. Used. In the back of some bike shop. With a man in the shower. That's what I call horror. Not only was she not conscious or aware for any of the immediately preceding events, but the guy who's been really her only friend in the world is now naked and telling her that he screwed her brains out while she was unconscious. And even if he doesn't tell her that, there's a very short rail of evidence and it all points to that conclusion. And now. She could be pregnant. She could be diseased.Yep. The crowning act of love on the part of the tale's heroine is little more than a petty, rapacious act of power over the helpless woman who got in her way. Good job Susie Salmon. You and George Harvey should get along nicely.p.s. even though I called it a spoiler, I think that Alice Sebold spoiled the book. Not me.

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.

Ted

** spoiler alert ** Two-dimensional stereotyped characters-Mother – living with the regret of losing her independence to the demands of childrearing. The tragic loss of a daughter accelerates her departure from those heavy burdens and into the arms of the detective working the case.-Father – obsessed to the point that he neglects the living members of his family destroying his relationship with his wife. Only in her absence is he able to fall in love with her “all over again”.-Detective – his ‘sob-story’ past (wife committed suicide) explains his devotion to make sense of senseless death by solving cases of murdered women. This leads him into the arms of the latest victim’s mother (who, incidentally, reminds him of his dead wife - eww).-Mrs. Singh – the exotic, wise, independent, and strong foreigner who calmly dispenses cool sage-like personal advice to near-strangers.-George Harvey – the ‘odd-but-harmless neighbor’ otherwise know as the psychotic pedophile/murderer who builds dollhouses in his spare time. Queue soundtrack with mangled version of a nursery rhyme transposed to a minor key ungainly lobbed from a detuned piano. Snippets from his mildly troubling childhood are revealed…explaining nothing.-Grandma Lynn – the often drunk but all-knowing grandmother with a ‘wacky’ liberal perspective on life.-I could go on…the youngest sibling who sees the ghost of Susie as his imaginary friend, the sister who struggles to become her own person from under the shadow of her dead sister, her boyfriend as the complete antithesis to the evil Mr. Harvey, her boyfriend’s older brother as the macho gear-head with a heart of gold.The NarrativeThere is only the occasional passage where the narrator’s voice sounds like that a teenage girl from the mid-seventies (“Lindsay had a boy in the kitchen!” – oh the giddiness of it all!). Small blessings. Cliché after cliché. If you haven’t already gotten a sense of the hackneyed construction of this book please re-read the first page of this rant. Only a sportscaster from some small-town cable station would stand a fighting chance of besting Sebold in a contest of cliché slinging.The EndingWorthy of Hallmark. Every loose end is tied up with nobody owning up to the consequences of their actions (with the exception of Mr. Harvey, because he’s bad, you see). The family is reunited, the murderer is murdered, the daughter marries her high school sweetheart and has a child of her own (thus proving that life does go on…sniff), and lastly, the teenaged ghost of murdered Susie Salmon transcends her personal minor heaven (a staging ground for spirits who persistently cling to the living world) by ‘falling’ back to earth, inhabiting the now 20-something body of a lesbian acquaintance in order to trespass into another person’s home and have sex with the now 20-something boy she had a crush on shortly before her murder. The moral? Only after wilfully experiencing the delightful carnal pleasures of the flesh can one, even the spirit of a murdered teenaged girl, let go of those lost earthly pleasures and move on to a higher and presumably more enlightened plane of existence where you are free to smite those that have wronged you. Touching, really.The Lovely Bones reviews-Why do they always say “brutal” murder or “brutal” rape? Is that opposed to the “wonderful” murders and “superb” rapes in other novels?-Did any of these reviewers even read the book?! They just seem to be reading each other’s reviews, praising the unique first person narrative of a protagonist in heaven and how it deals with such a horrifying topic. The fist person perspective does not offer anything new and the only thing horrifying here is that people consume mind-numbing garbage like this at an alarming rate.-There’s nothing new here. What was the point? Aside from, paranormal sex is a wonderfully liberating experience for both the possessive-spiri

Sammy

** spoiler alert ** This book could have easily fallen into the "same old, same old" category, but it didn't and that's why it's so good. There are certain things that I'm going to pick apart and point out that could be considered spoilers so this is your warning. Don't continue reading if you don't want to be spoiled. If you continue reading, don't bitch at me that I gave something away because I warned you. If you want to know in brief what I thought (because I know you so desperately value my opinion) here it is: beautifully written and unique novel with engaging, fully developed characters. Really, what more could you want in a novel?Okay, now down to the nitty gritty. At first I thought that this was going to be a sort of mystery novel. We know that Susie is dead, but I bet we're going to have to figure out who killed her and why! Nope. Straight off the bat Susie tells us who, what, when, where, why and how. Then I'm thinking, okay, so what's going to keep this novel going? In any other novel you pick up that has someone murdered you usually keep reading only to find out who, what, when, where, why and how. Now why am I reading this?Despite being curious about how heaven was going to be portrayed, it was the fact that I held the knowledge of Susie's death that none of the other characters held. It's the feeling of omniscience that kept me reading. So many times, along with Susie, I wanted to scream at characters, tell them to wake up! Tell them that Susie was still there, to not be sad. The novel ends up not being so plot driven as it is character driven. To have book being pushed along by characters is always a risky thing, but Sebold pulls it off beautifully.It's Susie watching them all that makes it so beautiful. She doesn't age as everyone else does. She watches her sister and can only grow up through her. She can only have experiences such as a serious boyfriend, finishing school, losing her virginity, through her sister. You feel pity for Susie during these moments. You know that she has been robbed, and you feel so angry about that.The only part that I found strange was when Susie suddenly becomes Ruth and has sex with Ray. It didn't seem to fit with the style of the novel and would have fit better in a fantasy style book or ghost story rather than what Sebold had been giving us the entire time. I wonder if Sebold didn't really know how to end it or she felt bad for Susie and wanted her to have that one moment for herself. As much as you want to give Susie that moment, I think it would have made the novel so much deeper and touching if she never got it. She's dead! She was murdered! Really, she'll never get that moment. How much more would that have meant to the reader? Of course you would be left feeling bad for Susie, but it's reality. The rest of the novel had been steeped in reality, why was this one part written to be not so?That was the only part that bothered me. Over all though, this novel was touching and an awesome read. I like books with a unique take on old stories... this is one of those. What happens when we know how the murder occured? What happens afterwards? Find out.

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.

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.

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.

Maggie

Title: The Lovely Bones Author: Alice SeboldNumber of Pages: 384Publisher: 2006 by Little, BrownCost: $13.95/19$19.95 in Canada ISBN: ISBN 0-316-6166685 The Lovely Bones is a book that is shocking and moving at the same time. It was everything that a book should be. In my opinion, The Lovely Bones was one the most interesting novels every written. You are probably asking yourself, “Well, what is so interesting about it?” “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6th, 1973.”(Sebold, 5). That is a quote that appears as the opening sentence of a 384 page book. That tells you directly that the book is going to be attention-grabbing. The book starts out with Susie (the protagonist) telling us (the readers) many things about her life and different events that are happening on Earth. That’s right, on Earth. The setting that Susie is living in and telling us various events is heaven. She is alone and misses her family. She was fourteen years old when she was brutally raped and killed by a neighborhood fellow. Now, in heaven she watched everything and everyone, especially her family and close ones. Along the way of watching all those different events, Susie discovers secrets and things that were never suppose to be seen. Some of the secrets are superior and some very poor, but both of them change her views on certain people. What I liked about the book was the irony that appeared throughout the book. Just think, a little girl growing up. But she is dead. Another fixation that I enjoyed was all the literary devices that were portrayed throughout the book. That is also what makes the book very interesting. I recommend this book for people who enjoy moving, intersting, dramatic and eye catching things. I recommend this book for a good read.=]

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!!!

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?

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.

tee

** spoiler alert ** I was really disappointed with this book. The first half was easy enough to read and then I started getting bored. Sebold rehashed the same old 'poignant' lines which was just frustrating after a while. However, if that was the only problem I had I wouldn't be complaining.I thought that the ending was nauseatingly shit; falling to earth into a body to have sex with some guy who we didn't really care about ... for no reason? Was it supposed to be a tear-jerker moment because I felt like throwing the book against the wall. Perhaps I was just confused because she'd watched her murderer stalk her sister hours (minutes?) beforehand and didn't use the opportunity on earth to confront her murderer. Maybe it was that the first half really did have promise but then Sebold threw me into an unexpected (and unwelcome) supernatural spin. The worst thing was there was just no substance.Then there's the "random" coincidences - Samuel and Lindsey pulling off the road in the rain, running to the abandoned shack then running all the way home only to ... find out at the conclusion that Ruth's dad owns the house. To me, this really shitty writing. What about Hal, what was the point of Hal's character? To be Grandma's gimp? I felt like there was no point to these side-line stories and cardboard cutout characters.There wasn't even any meat behind the mother leaving and completely abandoning her family. I think if you're going to include something as dramatic as that in the novel perhaps touch on it a little more. We don't want to know she's working in a wine factory, we want to know what is going on in her head! Then she wanders back into the finale, has a cup of tea with another random character, her son runs past because he has new drumset ... loose, loose, loooooose writing. I'm not a believer in heaven but am interested in other's perceptions of it. I found Sebold's ideas disappointing. School buildings? A few people dressed up as snowflakes at Christmas time? A very random connection with her Grandfather? To me, this novel could be a great sketched-out version - to be used for an actual story but as It was, it needed fleshing out, reworking and editing. Oh boy did it need editing.Great idea. Poor execution. And maybe that's what everyone got so carried away with, the idea was grand - so grand that they were blinded by the weakness of the script. Further, we all like to comfort ourselves with the whole heaven theory, don't we? The fact that we mean so much to people that we'll continue having such a huge impact on them. That we get to watch them from above after we're dead (voyeuristic much?). That this isn't it. Our one shot at life. All in all, if people love this book and it affects them, changes their life, their outlook, makes them feel warm and fuzzy, makes them tearful or full of rapture - that's a good thing. I'm just disappointed that such a top seller couldn't do that for me.

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.”

Shannon (Giraffe Days)

I would never have read this if it weren't for my bookclub. Having avoided it since it came out, I had very low expectations and so was surprised to be engrossed in the story - untill, about half-way through, it seemed to lose the plot and meandered around aimlessly, getting repetitive as it tried to wring emotion out of its characters, and me. Susie Salmon is dead. She begins her story by describing how she is murdered, and her family's reaction. From her place in heaven, she can watch anyone she wants to, but apart from "touching" Ruth, a fellow 14-year-old student at her school, on her way out, she can't make her presence felt. Ruth becomes a little obsessed with Susie, and starts to see and feel dead people, keeping a record of them in her diary. Susie's mum uses her daughter's death as a trigger to leave her family and try to recapture her youth. She is constantly described as a woman who never wanted to be a mother. Susie's dad takes her death particularly bad, and focuses on his two other children, Lindsey and Buckley. Susie watches from heaven as her family grows older, watches as Lindsey goes from first kiss to accepting a marriage proposal, watches her murderer, Mr Harvey, a serial killer who is [spoiler alert!:] never caught, and, at the end of the book, possesses Ruth's body so she can lose her viginity to the only boy she ever kissed. The Lovely Bones is fairly ambitious, and although it manages to keep from slipping into sentimental indulgence, it also lacks drive, and misses many opportunities to really delve into some interesting and important issues. Some devices were a bit cheesy, and seemed like avoidance. I guess I, like most people, would have been more satisfied if Mr Harvey had been caught, but that's not necessarily realistic either. The main reason why I struggled to finish it and why I give it only 2 stars is that the second half has nowhere to go, it loses its immediacy as the years go by and people start moving on, letting go of Susie, whose body was never found either. The characters started to annoy me - I wanted to be sympathetic, even of the mother, who, in a way, has the hardest time of all, but they began to get cliched. That said, there are some nice descriptions, Susie's voice is apt, there's a great sense of time (she's killed in the 70s) without being too obvious, and even if you only read the first half, it's well written and gripping before it becomes tedious.

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