The Lovely Bones

ISBN: 159413023X
ISBN 13: 9781594130236
By: Alice Sebold

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About this book

When we first meet Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. As she looks down from this strange new place, she tells us, in the fresh and spirited voice of a fourteen-year-old girl, a tale that is both haunting and full of hope.In the weeks following her death, Susie watches life continuing without her -- her school friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her family holding out hope that she'll be found, her killer trying to cover his tracks. As months pass without leads, Susie sees her parents' marriage being contorted by her loss, her sister hardening herself in an effort to stay strong, and her little brother trying to grasp the meaning of the word goneAnd she explores the place called heaven. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. There are counselors to help newcomers adjust and friends to room with. Everything she ever wanted appears as soon as she thinks of it -- except the thing she wants most: to be back with the people she loved on Earth.With compassion, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie sees her loved ones pass through grief and begin to mend. Her father embarks on a risky quest to ensnare her killer. Her sister undertakes a feat of remarkable daring. And the boy Susie cared for moves on, only to find himself at the center of a miraculous event.

Reader's Thoughts

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.

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.

KT

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.

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.

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.

Embee

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.

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.

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

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.

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.=]

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.

Maggie

Why did this book get so much love? Maybe it's the same reason that child molestation/abduction/murder always shoots to the top of CNN.com's list of most-read stories. America is fascinated with the subject matter. That's the only explanation I can think of. As has been said by other reviewers here, the book itself was atrociously written, with flat, stereotyped characters and is full of laugh-out-loud awful passages. I only finished it so that no one could pull the old "But it gets better..." on me. It does not. More generally, I'd also like to add: When people say, "I felt like I knew the characters in (insert title of any book here)," watch out. Sometimes it means that the author has created a strikingly believable character; but more often it means that the author has created a bunch of lifeless characters into whom your friend has pumped the authenticity of people whom they know.

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.

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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