The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is ok - I enjoyed it but I don't think I'd recommend it. It was certainly one of the better books I've read for this October, but October has been a disappointing month. The Lovely Bones was originally published in July 2002 and my paperback copy is 328 pages
"On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon ("like the fish") is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer--the man she knew as her neighbor, Mr. Harvey.Alice Sebold's haunting and heartbreaking debut novel, The Lovely Bones, unfolds from heaven, where "life is a perpetual yesterday" and where Susie narrates and keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case. As Sebold fashions it, everyone has his or her own version of heaven. Susie's resembles the athletic fields and landscape of a suburban high school: a heaven of her "simplest dreams," where "there were no teachers.... We never had to go inside except for art class.... The boys did not pinch our backsides or tell us we smelled; our textbooks were Seventeen and Glamour and Vogue."The Lovely Bones works as an odd yet affecting coming-of-age story. Susie struggles to accept her death while still clinging to the lost world of the living, following her family's dramas over the years like an episode of My So-Called Afterlife. Her family disintegrates in their grief: her father becomes determined to find her killer, her mother withdraws, her little brother Buckley attempts to make sense of the new hole in his family, and her younger sister Lindsey moves through the milestone events of her teenage and young adult years with Susie riding spiritual shotgun. Random acts and missed opportunities run throughout the book--Susie recalls her sole kiss with a boy on Earth as "like an accident--a beautiful gasoline rainbow." Though sentimental at times, The Lovely Bones is a moving exploration of loss and mourning that ultimately puts its faith in the living and that is made even more powerful by a cast of convincing characters. Sebold orchestrates a big finish, and though things tend to wrap up a little too well for everyone in the end, one can only imagine (or hope) that heaven is indeed a place filled with such happy endings. --Brad Thomas Parsons --"
As some reviewers have noted, The Lovely Bones does start out with a strong beginning and has a comparatively weak ending. It also requires you to believe in the heaven Sebold has created, which is not a place where God is even mentioned. It is a sort of place that you customize to fit your likes and dislikes. A make it your own heaven kind of place. In some ways, The Lovely Bones strikes me more as a teen book and largely based on the way Susie's heaven is described. That may be what makes this a so-so book for me.
"He nodded seriously and kissed my father's cheek. Something so divine that no one up in heaven could have made it up; the care a child took with an adult."
"Each time I told my story, I lost a bit, the smallest drop of pain. It was that day that I knew I wanted to tell the story of my family. Because horror on Earth is real and it is every day. It is like a flower or like the sun; it cannot be contained."
"His devotion to me had made me know again and again that I had been beloved. In the warm light of my father's love I had remained Susie Salmon - a girl with my whole in front of me."