File under: Entertainment/Reviews (or Dish)
In “The Lovely Bones,” Alice Sebold puts a new twist to the perspective of life and death.
This is a story about the most tragic event that a family can face–the murder of a daughter. Sebold’s novel is built out of grief but quickly transforms into a suspenseful and lightly humored story about love, memory, heaven and healing.
When the reader first meets Susie Salmon she is already dead. In the first few pages of the novel, Susie recounts her gruesome murder from her vantage point in heaven. Not quite ready to give up her old life, Susie looks down from her strange new home and watches as life continues without her.
In the time that follows her death, Susie views her murderer as he carefully covers his tracks so that the police cannot find him. After months with no lead, her parents’ marriage is severely turned around by the loss. Susie’s sister hardens her heart in effort to stay strong and her little brother attempts to grasp the meaning of the word gone.
With a spirited voice, Susie takes account of the events of earth — of the living–while exploring the place called heaven.
Through the narration of the 14-year-old, Sebold creates a heaven that is calm and comforting — allowing its residents to obtain all that they desire.
Sebold creates a heaven where Susie encounters counselors to help her adjust to heavenly ways and gives her a friend to room with. And although Susie is given all she ever wanted, she cannot have the one thing closest to her heart — to be back on earth with the people that she loves.
Sebold uses lyrically rich language to draw the readers into the mind of Susie — allowing room to explore the sweetness of heaven, while constantly be reminded of the realities of earth.
Although the body of the novel is strong and poetically written, the ending becomes somewhat weak and clich/.
As Susie’s family begins to heal and begins to find comfort in memories and in love, Sebold trails off into a “life is short” message. With such a high-powered and effective storyline, Sebold should have ended with something more profound than a wish for a long and happy life.
Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones” still manages to make the bestseller list; however this novel is a good, not great, read.
“We had been given, in our heavens, our simplest dreams.”