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on 12 November 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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on 12 March 2004
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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on 20 August 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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on 9 October 2003
This is how I hope it really is if there is an afterlife. The story of a 14 year old girl, murdered by a neighbour and watching from "her Heaven", not being able to let anyone know what happened or direct them to her killer. She watches as her family and friends grieve and come to terms with her terrible death. She watches as they grow up and grow older, experiencing all the things she never got to do. She describes feeling no anger or bitterness towards her murderer or towards her untimely death.
There is a certain amount of tension as her sister and father try and uncover the truth behind her murder, and sadness as the tragedy takes it's toll on her parent's relationship and her father's health. Very poignant if you have children of your own in today's more violent and unpredictable society
Over all an enjoyable which is quite easy to read in one sitting -if you've got the time!
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on 21 March 2010
It tells the story of 14-year old Susie Salmon, a girl who was raped and murdered. To her surprise, her life did not end yet. She was transferred to the `in-between", a place between heaven and earth. In there, she watched her family mourn for her death and how the family fell apart because of her death. She also watched her murderer ran free because the police failed to find evidence against him. The story finished with her family coming back to together after coming to terms with and finding peace of her death, and her murderer killed in an accident.

It is probably one of the most difficult book I have to read, the emotions I experience while reading it is overwhelming. I found myself having to read other books in between to distract myself. I was literally shocked after reading the first chapter about how Susie was killed. And then the rest of the book does get you quite depressed.
Although the book is difficult to read, it is a great work of novel. The main theme of the book is death. And according to psychology, there are five stages of grief : denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance and these are all shown by the reaction of Susie's family. After the first chapter, we get to see how the family reacted to Susie's death from her point of view. And in narrating it all, Susie also gives lots of flashbacks of the past about her time with her family. I like the way the author merge various "images" from the pre and post death. For example, one of the images that still stay in my mind is the hobby that Susie shares with her father-putting crafted ships into glass bottles. Her dad had lots of empty bottle for future work in his workshop and he destroyed them all after Susie's death. Another one is the sinkhole, the place where they dumped old household items which was also the place Susie's body was dumped.

It is a beautifully written tale of the love and emotion we feel about losing a love one. The different reactions of the family members show us the different ways people react to death. Susie's father represents those who fail to forget while Susie's sister represents those who choose to keep it and mourn inside, but pretend to the outside world everything is fine. Susie's mother represents those in denial or fail to come to terms with the truth.
Apart from seeing it from the mourners, we also get to see it from the point of view of Susie, the deceased. One of the main reason she stayed in the in-between for so long was because she has unfinished business on earth. This make me thing about those we know of have passed away. Do some of them have wills that they have not fulfilled or should we all let go when our time come? Apart from seeing her family mourn for her, seeing her sister growing up and be able to do things that she never had a chance to, you can feel her dispair.

In the end of the book, Susie's family finally come to terms with her death and be able to move on with their lives. It's a very positive message that we need to put a time limit on our mourning process and move on which is not just good for ourselves, but also good for the deceased. Those who passed away will always live in our hearts, just like Susie's sister who named her baby girl after her.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone as it does give you a different perspective on death.
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on 17 October 2003
I bought this book on a whim after browsing the local bookshop and thought that the summary on the back cover sounded interesting. Having now read it I can say that I have made an excellent choice, the writing is superb each character being so well created that you will find it very easy to identify with them. The whole book flows along drawing you into the surreal world of a murdered narrator watching the lives of her family, friends, neighbours and even murderer unfold in the time after her death. All I have to say is you should read the book with an open mind and you will be drawn in as I was.
This book will make you happy, upset, the (never gratuitous) violence will make you scared, think, wonder and hope.
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on 26 September 2010
Books involving murder,death and teenage girls aren't usually my thing but I must say I found this powerful novel gripping, life changing and above all inspiring to the very last word. Having experienced a loved one cruelly snatched from me at the hands of another human being I often suffered from deep rooted feelings of anger and an insatiable lust for revenge. However this book changed all of that. As I saw the tragedy of Susie Salmon unfold throughout the book and the impact it had on everyones life I empathised with the characters pain and grief. However having watched the incredible strength the family show and how the bonds of love can never be broken I realised that by hoarding these dark feelings your allowing evil to prevail. This book allowed me to let go of this anger and embrace the incredible gifts I have been blessed with in life. The lovely bones shows that however bad things may seem evil will never prevail! The love between a father and daughter doesn't change through death. It will always remain, will always be constant and above all should be cherished. I recommend this book to everyone as the tale of pain, love and coping against all the odds will warm all of your hearts
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on 16 January 2005
What an emotive work of fiction! Never before have I been moved to tears with the first chapter of a novell.
After passing The Lovely Bones on it's perch in the local book shop & glancing uncertianly at the title, I stumbled upon a copy on my sister's book shelf. Having nothing better to do on a dire Sunday afternoon, I thought I would indulge in a little 'light' reading.
This, however, was not to be. As the main charecter Susie embarks upon a terrifying & sometimes fantastical journey, she invites the reader to walk beside her every step of the way. Nothing in this novell seems too far fetched to be believed.
As Susie experiences the losses, the high's, the low's, the frustration's & eventually the acceptance of her situation she achieve's what many litterary charecter's fail to do: remains a charecter of many dimensions.
This is a book for road trip's, cosy evening's in, avid readers & even those that despise the written word!
Go on...take a peak inside & let your self be carried away... you'll laugh, cry, gallop toward's the end & when your finished, you might even begin again. But~keep the hankies handy!
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on 10 June 2003
This is a beautiful novel. Once in a while a really special first novel emerges and this is one such novel.
From the first page when the narrator reveals herself to be dead; brutally raped and murdered as a school girl, the reader knows that this is something quite different and compelling. This is a book that is virtually impossible to put down and it stays with you when you're not reading it. You will search out time to read it.
Alice Sebold's novel works on may levels. At the simplest level there is a thriller within the novel in the shape of 'Will the murderer be caught?'
At the heart of the book is the tale of a family living their lives after the murder of their daughter/ sister and how this changes everyone's story. This is where Sebold excells. The descriptions of the love and friendship between a father and child are beautifully well observed and painfully moving. As is the account of what it means for a parent to lose this.
The Lovely Bones is also a tribute to women and children who have experienced violence.
Sebold covers so much ground here and even manages to tell the story of Susie Salmon's murderer.
You may think that this is a heavy book, but nothing could be further from the truth. The prose is deft and clipt. At the same time the description of Susie's heaven is beautifully poetic.
This is a book full of light and hope. Susie Salmon will emerge as one of modern literatures favourite characters and her story will stay with you long after the last page is read.
Read Lucky and you will learn how and why Alice Sebold created such a wonderful generous world from a tragic beginning.
Read and enjoy.
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on 31 August 2011
Warning: this review contains spoilers!

Sebold's idea to have the story narrated by the dead victim seemed like an original approach and I thought the author carried it off pretty well. Some of the logistics were a little fuzzy (e.g. of Susie's heaven and her ability to perceive thoughts and feelings of living people on earth), but that didn't bother me too much. But basically the main character, Susie, was lovely, and it was her personality that kept me reading to the end.

I thought the author made some interesting plot choices. Firstly, when Susie comes back temporarily to the world of the living, I would have expected her to do something to help get her killer caught, or perhaps visit her grieving family; instead, she chose to spend her time making love with Ray Singh, a boy she had kissed a few weeks before she died. Having read other reviews, I see that many people were disappointed by this, but I thought it made the novel much more uplifting than it would have been otherwise. I thought it was so sweet and touching that Susie wanted more than anything was to share in the growing-up experience, and she wasn't simply after vengeance and retribution for her killer.

Most of the novel is spent with Susie watching her friends and family from heaven as the years pass. I see that some readers have been frustrated with this and don't see the point of it.... But I thought it was a very elegant way to portray how heartbreaking Susie's murder was, because while her siblings and high school friends grow up, get married and have children themselves, Susie remains stuck at 14 years old; and to me it demonstrated very poignantly all that the murderer had robbed her of.

I think it is takes a very talented writer to base a novel on the rape and murder of a child, and somehow manage to make it happy and uplifting. Some people have been disappointed by the last line, but I thought it was perfect, because it encapsulated in that one sentence what I had grown to love about Susie. This poor girl, raped and murdered, and forever stuck at 14 years old while everyone she had loved continued to grow and move on with their lives - she still had the generosity of spirit to wish for all of us what she had been denied. Loved it.
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