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The Lovely Bones [Paperback]

Alice Sebold
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (817 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Dec 2009

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer.

This is Susie Salmon. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy, suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet . . . The Lovely Bones is a luminous and astonishing novel about life and death, forgiveness and vengeance, memory and forgetting – but, above all, about finding light in the darkest of places.

‘Spare, beautiful and brutal prose . . . The Lovely Bones is compulsive enough to read in a single sitting, brilliantly intelligent, elegantly constructed and ultimately intriguing’ The Times

‘Moving and compelling . . . It will put an imperceptible but stealthily insistent hold on you. I sat down in the morning to read the first couple of pages; five hours later, I was still there, book in hand, transfixed’ Maggie O'Farrell, Sunday Telegraph

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Media tie-in edition (4 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330457721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330457729
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (817 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 211,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alice Sebold is the bestselling author of The Lovely Bones (now a major motion picture) and Lucky, both of which were #1 New York Times bestsellers. Her most recent novel is The Almost Moon. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Sebold grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended Syracuse University, as well as the University of Houston and the University of California, Irvine. She now lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.

Product Description

Amazon Review

On her way home from school on a snowy December day, 14-year-old Susie Salmon is lured into a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold's haunting and heartbreaking debut novel, 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. 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, --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


...a keenly observed portrait of familial love... a deeply affecting meditation on the ways in which terrible pain... can be redeemed... -- New York Time, 18 June 02

...amazing. Careful and courageous, original and profound, The Lovely Bones spins the most painful subject imaginable into pure gold... -- Karen Joy Fowler, author of Sister Noon and Sarah Canary

...makes manifest, in a beautifully written and complex story full of love and hope, the utter banality of evil. -- Lynn Freed, author of House of Women and The Mirror

Painfully funny, bracingly tough, terribly sad, it is a feat of imagination and a tribute to the healing power of grief... -- Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay

Sebold has given us a fantasy-fable of great authority, charm and daring. She's a one-of-a-kind-writer. -- Jonathan Frantzen, author of The Corrections --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
165 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing 12 Nov 2004
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. I am not one for reading about death, ghosts, anything in the slightest bit scary or frightening, and when I heard about this book I did not think it would be for me. But, I read the first page of this book and was hooked, I finished it 5 hours later and I can honestly say it has changed the way I think about heaven, life after death and the ability to move on when somebody you love dies.
It is a thought provoking, tear jerking fictional story of Susie Salmon, murdered at a young and tender age, who narrates the story of her afterlife (for want of a better word) in "her Heaven" and her family's path through life without her. I did not put this book down from the moment I started it, I read alot of books and have never been so hooked on anything before. The idea is so original, you will not have read anything like it. The emotional ride that Susie and author Alice Sebold take you on is a real rollercoaster, you will cry tears of sadness and joy, feel anger and fear, love the story and possibly hate it too. If you have children you will cuddle them extra hard on a night. If ever you have lost someone close then read this book.
Alice Sebold is not attempting to make you believe in anything, this is not a religious book, or a story to be afraid of (even if you have lost a child yourself), it is simply a fictional novel, of the way things could possibly be. The whole story centres around a sad event, a brutal murder of someone young and vulnerable, but this is not a dark book, it will make you cry, and make you happy. Susie is a strong character, easy to like and easy to understand, someone most people can relate to.
I can honestly say this book will stay with me forever, I loved reading it, and am very happy to recommend it to everyone. Happy reading!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great disappointment 4 Aug 2011
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER
I had come across "The Lovely Bones" in my local Borders bookstore a few years ago. I started reading it back then, and I really liked what I read. It's a story of a young girl who is raped and killed by a sexual predator/ serial killer, as told from the dead girl's perspective. This was a very unusual and interesting premise, with a lot of potential for a very original and imaginative novel. At the time I did not continue reading the book, but when the movie based on it came out earlier this year I thought that maybe the time had come to read it in its entirety. And this has been one of the greatest disappointments as a reader that I've ever had.

The supernatural premise of viewing earthly events from a dead girl's perspective is not really used all that much in the book, except for one brief chapter well towards the end. Even then, the whole incident is completely superfluous to the overall narrative, and it has no discernable effect on the rest of the book. It seems that the choice of the point of view for this book had more to do with the kind of narrative device that the author wanted to employ, rather than with the plot development, only to change her mind at almost the last moment, and then do it haphazardly and then backtrack on her decision. However, even as a pure narrative device this ploy has problems that show throughout the book. Unlike a perfect omniscient narrator, a dead girl is actually pretty limited in her perspective, not least because she can only observe the outward appearances of other protagonists. She does make surmises on people's inner states of mind, but those are usually very restrained and not very convincing.

The book fails as a murder-mystery thriller as well.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking... 20 Aug 2003
I must admit that strangers starred at me as tears flowed while I read the book on the train on my way home. I have never read such a captivating book, I simply just had to finish it in one day.
Till date this is Alice Sebold's only fiction novel that I know of, the other is non-fiction and is called 'Lucky'. In it holds the key to why she could write and transmit to us a nightmare horror, for she too was raped on her way home.
I cried for the main character, Susie, because she was frozen in a child like body, while watching her sister and brother grow up, the end of her parent's marriage and eventually her mother's transformation. In 'Lucky' you will read how the author's own mother battled with alcohol and personality problems. Both books are entwined, I think, one true, the other make believe, both the author's attempt to deal with ghosts of the past as well as the unanswered question, what if she had been murdered that day?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The first chapter is not easy reading, it describes the rape and murder of the narrator, Susie Salmon, and it implies a gruesome scene. However, it is dealt with as delicately as possible, with just the right amount of detail to set the book off. The rest of the book is truly beautiful. It takes us through the grief and horror and reluctance to resume normal life of the family, but always through the eyes of Susie. I laughed, cried, grimaced and rejoiced in this book. I could not put it down. Well done to the author for creating such a huge impact. It did mirror the film Ghost with some of its approaches, and I didn't really appreciate the scene at the end, one taken straight from Ghost. But apart from that, an amazing read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down
things in the book that bugged me but I can't reveal without giving the plot away but overall a really great book. I am going to watch the film now
Published 55 minutes ago by Onlysim
5.0 out of 5 stars In my '10 best reads of all time'
I absolutely adored the book and it is in the list of my personal 'All Time Favourites'. The opening line sets the scene straight away. Read more
Published 6 days ago by The Pegster
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this Book
A friend recommended this to me, but I thought it wouldn't be my kind of book. I bought it anyway and when I started reading it I couldn't put it down. Read more
Published 6 days ago by G Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming tale of death... And life
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is a very strange, yet powerful book. It touches on subjects that many more established writers know to leave alone, but does so with an amount of... Read more
Published 10 days ago by
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
this book was recommended to me by two friends and I'm glad I bought it. a good storyline with believable characters.
Published 12 days ago by Carol McKechnie
5.0 out of 5 stars A view from heaven
Original perspective for a book. Humerous and extremely emotional. A real page turner. Loved it from start to finish. Recommended read.
Published 13 days ago by hunstergal
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book
Read this in a couple of days and after the first few intermittent reads I finished 3/4 of it in two sittings. A brilliant story and totally captivating. Read more
Published 16 days ago by S. Heptonstall
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book
I had not been gripped so much by a book till I came across the lovely bones. Sebold is an outstanding author with a pure talent for writing. I would highly recommend this book.
Published 16 days ago by Bethany Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotional !
An excellent read, an emotive subject from a different perspective. Reccommended to me and one I would certainly reccomend and read again
Published 19 days ago by Jackie Lainchbury
3.0 out of 5 stars difficult to read
I tried twice to get into this book but it is not my kind of story. No doubt others would enjoy it, but it is complicated and I read at night in bed before going to sleep and... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Mrs. A. P. Smith
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