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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Lovely Bones
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175 of 182 people found the following review helpful
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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. It's not so much that know from the very beginning what happened and who did what, but as the story progresses we get less and less of an impression that most of the relevant characters are truly trying to solve a criminal case. They all make some half-hearted and intermittent steps in trying to solve this murder, but we need to be constantly reminded by the narrator that they do in fact really want to solve the case.

Finally, and most disappointingly, the book fails as a coming-to-terms-with-tragedy novel. As previously mentioned, the point of view of the narrative is actually pretty limiting, and we don't really have the full access to the inner thoughts and feeling of various protagonists. We have to be constantly told about what they are going through, which doesn't make for a very satisfying reading experience. Furthermore, most of the characters (even those with more exotic backgrounds) are actually rather flat and uninteresting. Almost every little girl in the story is a more serious embodiment of Lisa Simpson. The reader doesn't feel much of the conviction in their actions and thoughts.

I stuck with this book through the very end because I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, a surprising and revelatory ending would make all the reading effort worth it. Unfortunately, that too was a big disappointment. The end left me hanging, and if I had cared more for any of the characters in the book I would have been really frustrated. As it is, I am just left to lament all the time I had wasted on reading this rather unremarkable book. The style of writing is pretty good, something that was obviously tuned in fiction workshops, but in the end not nearly so good to justify wasting so much time on this novel.
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99 of 113 people found the following review helpful
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 June 2011
This is a nice, well written book that is very sentimental, tender and sad, but not more than that.

Fourteen year old Susie Salmon is raped and murdered by a neighbour. After her death she is taken to her own personal heaven, from where she remembers her life on earth and she observes how her family and friends cope with her loss. The book is about loss, acceptance and forgiveness. Susie from her perfect and safe heaven comes to accept her death, learns to cherish her memories and realize the importance and value of even the most insignificant events of human life.

This book frequently reminded me of Thornton Wilder's Our Town: A Play in Three Acts, which I think is a much more powerful and moving story. The first sentence of the book is captivating and the first few chapters gripping, however the story does not lead to anything and it becomes melodramatic and sad. At some point the plot becomes surreal and the ending is disappointing.

I know that a lot of people were deeply affected by this book and found it moving, comforting and inspiring, but sadly for me it did not work that way. For me it was simply a well written, somewhat interesting, sentimental book that just left me feeling sad for a while. If the point of writing a review here is to either recommend a book or not, I really don't know what to say about this one; it is one of those books that work differently for each person, and the fact that I didn't love it, does not mean that it will not affect someone else in a completely different way.
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