The Lovely Bones

ISBN: 0330485385
ISBN 13: 9780330485388
By: Alice Sebold

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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


Have you ever read the introduction to a book and thought the notion so interesting, you began forming ideas for the story in your head?This was exactly the case for me with 'The Lovely Bones'... It started out as I imagined but really fell apart as the story faltered on. I found it very disappointing and wish another author would run with the idea but in a completely different direction.


** 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

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.

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.


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.=]


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.

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.


Haaaaaated it. I am one of those OCD literary nerds who takes on a war bunker mentality with books that I've started and dislike: "I will see this through to the end." For "The Lovely Bones," I made an exception.Somewhere, sometime, someone told Sebold she could write. That person should be made to apologize to me, in person, and to all other poor souls who were duped into buying this shlock. The literary press also needs to break out the cattails for a serious bout of flogging. Lev Grossman of Time Magazine is at the top of my flogging docket; he called this book "a beautiful, sensitive, melancholy novel" and repeated that claim a year later in a review for a book called "The Dogs of Babel" (a book just as terrible as The Lovely Bones). I can only assume that Mr. Grossman confined his reading to the zeros on the check accompanying the publisher's blurb or else has some sort of vitamin deficiency that causes his brain to process ham-handed tripe as "beautiful" art.It was Mr. Grossman's review along with the alluring premise of the novel (a young girl posthumously tries to make sense of the events that led to her death) that led me to order "The Lovely Bones" and "The Dogs of Babel," which at the time were only available in hardcover. Financial reasons made this an extremely uncommon practice for me, and my experience reading both of those novels ensured that I would never do so again.To further illustrate how absolutely wretched this novel is, I'm going to provide a paragraph of background. The "substance" of the novel will be criticized in the subsequent body of this review.During the summer of 2003, I was occupying space as an intern at a company that accepted me at the last minute and had nothing for me to do. The company was white-collar and behemoth in office space. HR sent me to an deserted floor to file documents that took up, at most, 2 hours of my 8-hour day. Even in this vacuum of monotony, I could not finish this book. I chose to watch paint chip away, and pick up dust bunnies with recycled paper (I didn't have a broom) rather than finish this book.So with that said, I suppose I should actually mention something specific about the book I hated. My caveat here is that I am unwilling to punish myself by picking through a copy of the book for textual examples. I'm going by memory and online synopses alone.The narrator and victim is "Susie Salmon." Let me stop there. SUSIE SALMON. That really should have clued me in, but I was too eager to see how the author would represent the afterlife, to catch a glimpse of this beautiful pain of looking a life that goes on without you.Unfortunately, Sebold managed to bleach out anything remotely interesting out of the plot in spectacular fashion. Heaven is a school, you see, not that Susie spends much time there or learns anything. Her rapist and murderer is a creepy loser while somehow being the dullest of all of Sebold's numerous dull characters. The "reason" for his murderous tendencies could be guessed by anyone who's ever even heard of a pop psychology book.You'd think her family would at least be interesting in grief, but Sebold reduces them to one note drones. Everything in The Lovely Bones is a gimmick, played cheaply for sentiment and with no other reward. I'd compare to a Hallmark movie, but Hallmark movies do not adopt the pretension that Sebold belabors with terrible pseudo-post-modernist metaphors. All of this would be bad enough, but what made me throw this book "aside with great force" is the offensive, and unjustifiable resolution to Susie's laments that she did not get to live. This unfairness, although poorly developed, was at least a cause of sympathy until Susie decides to forcibly correct it at the expense of others. In the hands of someone else, this last turn could've been bleak insight into motivations of the cycle of victimization but Sebold conveys not one iota of ambivalence.Much of my hatred of this novel results from its inexplicable popularity and commendation from people who have a responsibility to promote reading. I shudder to think who else picked up this novel convinced it was the best that the contemporary literary world had to offer. It is not my intention to slam those who enjoyed this book. If you did, I am glad to hear it. I love books, and I want others to love books. I simply fear that someone who is tempted out of a long vacation from reading might pick up a novel like this and give up the cause for lost.

mark monday

the first chapter is pretty impressive: a perfectly captured voice, a suspenseful and disturbing narrative, a jarring end. overall that first part was a moving and challenging experience. the rest of the novel is less impressive, but there is an originality to it that was appealing. the First Person Omniscient perspective has been remarked upon in many reviews - and it does make this book a rather unusual experience. that personalized omniscience creates an at-times annoying quirkiness, but also some pretty wonderful moments, particularly in the noting of various small details - the kind of details that tell you all about a person, the emotions they are wrestling with, what their life story is all about.but what i found most interesting about Lovely Bones was perhaps not as intentional - namely, the very distancing blandness of our sorta-heroine's voice. if this child had lived, she may have grown up to be ann beattie or margaret diehl or joan didion. her emotional range is not one of many peaks and valleys, it is rather a pleasant flatline. that detachment, that even-handedness, that smoothness... it is a bit strange, a bit creepy. what in the world are they taking up there in heaven, some kind of mega-strength prozac or valium? the afterlife sounds like my exact cup of tea: a place to idly contemplate the lives of those we lived with - but no anxious worrying, no getting unduly agitated or emotional. how relaxing!there was one key part that i did not care for at all, perhaps enough to dock a star off of this one: the unappealing possession-cum-fantasy sex scene at the end. ugh. it is hard to complain about such a scene not being "realistic", but it just did not feel real to me - well at least the feelings of the two living people involved did not make emotional sense. also, sad to say, it reminded me of the demi moore-makes out with-whoopi goldberg-who is possessed by-patrick swayze scene from Ghost... and that is never a good thing.


** spoiler alert ** I have no idea how so many people can love such a boring, pointless book. I don't read a lot of juggernaut pop-fiction, but at least with "DaVinci Code" I can see the appeal; this one's draw baffles me. Besides being uninteresting, there are two plot points that were just rancid:1. The mom suddenly deciding to return to her family when the dad has a heart attack.2. Susie possesses Ruth's body so she can fuck the med student. So if you die a virgin, God lets you back on Earth for a few hours to bang someone with another person's genitals, putting them at risk for an STD or unwanted pregnancy? What if you die as a toddler, do you still get to come back and fuck someone? Also, she says she doesn't want to go after her murderer while in the host, that's real fucking nice, Susie, the whole book's about you wishing you hadn't died and the strain it put on your family, and you'd rather take a dick in a bathtub then stop him from raping/killing more children. That's great. And that whole idea was a rip-off of the movie "Ghost," remember? If you're gonna plagiarize from a Patrick Swayze movie, please make it "Roadhouse."P.S. The real version of this book is called "Remember Me" by Christopher Pike which I read when I was ten.


"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.


** 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.


"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.


** 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.

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.”

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