Book Review – The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Posted: January 19, 2010 in Book Reviews

It is said that dead men (or women) tell no tales. That is certainly not the case with this book. Told from the perspective of Susie Salmon, a 14 year old brutally murdered by her neighbor, this dead girl is certainly telling tales. This is not your run of the mill coming of age story, since the protagonist is dead!

On the way home from school one afternoon, Susie Salmon is lured into an underground shelter by her neighbor, George Harvey. Come to find out, Mr. Harvey is a serial killer. You can already see where this is going. Susie is raped and murdered by Mr. Harvey, and her bones hidden and her charm bracelet, a gift from her mom, is taken. What ensues is Susie telling her story from her particular “heaven” while she looks in on her family and friends and even her killer.

Now, before you think this is a riveting crime drama about hunting down a brutal killer, don’t. This is a story about Susie’s family and friends and how they deal with the grieving process around her death. It is also about Susie coming to terms with her own demise. But be warned, the first chapter of this book is very brutal and is definitely for mature readers. Alice Sebold, the author of the book, has had some dramatic events happen in her life, and has written about them. This book is partially a result of that. On another note, I think Peter Jackson, who directed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, made a wise decision in not including the horrific event in its entirety in his movie based on the book.

However, this is a great read with lots of emotion, dramatic storytelling, and a touch of fantasy. There is also a great combination of action and drama, so the story isn’t all about dealing with grief. Sebold throws in the obligatory big word here or there, but the writing is straightforward and goes quick. And I for one enjoy big words used appropriately…

I would recommend this book as a must read for the fantasy fan, despite its gruesome contents. And for those who are enthralled with the human conditions such as it is.

Next up: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. (I do like reading those depressing stories…)

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