Alice Sebold breaches the regular confines of heaven, tragedy and ways of dealing with grief in “The Lovely Bones”, the story of a young girl who is murdered.
When Susie Salmon disappears, an investigation and rumors surrounding her death begin. Written from the point of view of Susie, Sebold sets the book as a view from heaven, with Susie watching over Earth as police search for her body.
Susie watches the happenings of the family, living through the grief and discovery that they experience during the weeks and months after her death.
The writing style envelops readers in each story, watching the story unfold from an outside perspective, creating a different thought process than a regular narrative would have fostered.
As the novel unfolds, Sebold generates a heaven tuned to the wants of Susie as she was on Earth, expanding as she learns and desires other things.
The unexpected version of heaven that Sebold generates, one created by the person in heaven and expanding as that person learns, adds a religious undertone to the novel.
Susie continuously watches the Earth, exploring her heaven and finding ways to watch what she desires.
The novel continues along the lines of discovery and disbelief, expanding on love and loss. Susie’s father, Jack, never believes that Susie is missing, and he constantly looks for her murderer.
Abigail, Susie’s mother, was thrown into the confines of family too early for her liking. When her daughter is killed, and her husband is wrapped up in the murder for months on end, Abigail seeks a way out.
The family also includes Susie’s younger sister, Lindsey, and brother, Buckley, each with their own beliefs on Susie’s disappearance. Buckley even occasionally sees Susie when he looks upon heaven, hinting at contact from the other side.
At times comedic, the view from heaven allows Susie to cope with what happened to her, as well as have her own sort of closure with her family.
Sebold unites a family through different fields of life, allowing people to gain closure, as well as have a type of contact with those they miss the most.
Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org