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The Lovely Bones Book Review

A review of The Lovely Bones

By Sarah TagertPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
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The Lovely Bones Book Review
Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

Format: Paperback

Language: English

ISBN: 0330485385

ISBN13: 9780330485388

Release Date: January 2003

Publisher: Pan MacMillan

Length: 328 Pages

Weight: 0.50 lbs.

This is a review of the award-winning book “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold. It is both a beautifully written and haunting novel about the murder of Susie Salmon, told from her perspective concerning the impact of her disappearance and presumed death. The writing style is so different from anything I’ve ever read before. It has a very light and ethereal feel to it. I’ve recently ordered two more books by the same author and I hope they measure up to “The Lovely Bones”. It’s been a while since I read this book, but it has stuck with me.

The Plot

“The Lovely Bones” follows the lives of a typical American family as they grapple with the disappearance and presumed death of 14-year-old Susie Salmon. It is told from the perspective of the murdered girl as she observes the effect of her absence on the remaining members of her family, as they all cope in different ways. Each member of the family chooses a different path as they navigate the loss and struggle to find closure in unresolved circumstances.

Susie’s family consists of her mother, Abigail, father, Jack, sister, Lindsey, and little brother, Buckley. Though they each grieve in their own ways, her father takes the loss the hardest, becoming obsessed with the only suspect in the case, often putting himself in danger to obtain evidence the suspect is retaining. Abigail withdraws completely following the loss and eventually abandons the remaining family. The portrayal shows Susie viewing her family from the other side. The author depicts heaven as a place where loved ones who have passed can look down upon their remaining loved ones with curiosity and indifference. She can observe not only her family but friends and even her murderer as they go about their lives and observe the impact of her loss upon all of them. She cannot interact with them or influence their activities. This aspect of the book often frustrated me, as I watched one of the living characters doing something dangerous, and Susie was powerless to do anything other than observe. Lindsey, especially, took to reckless behavior in the absence of responsible parents. The situation made me feel anxious as Buckley, being just a toddler, still required adult supervision.

As the story unfolds, the family gradually falls apart as the weight of the trauma takes its toll on them. The children, Lindsey and Buckley, suffer the most as they not only lose their sister but both parents as the result of grief. The loss of his sister affects Buckley, who is young and unable to process it, as he grows up in its shadow. Lyndsey takes advantage of her distraught, disconnected parents, and at times, it seems she is on the verge of meeting the same fate as her sister.

Observers see the murderer going about his life following the murder, appearing smug and confident in having gotten away with the crime. He even tests his limits approaching family members or law enforcement in charge of the case to probe if they are on to him. It isn’t hard to see how the murder will go unsolved, considering the method which was used to dispose of the body and related evidence. As the book concludes, Susie accepts her death and separation from her family, and her family starts to find closure and move forward.

Conclusion

“The Lovely Bones” is a strikingly beautiful story about loss with an undertone of hope. It reveals the resiliency of the human spirit and our ability to adapt. Through her stream-of-consciousness style of writing, Sebold makes the reader feel they are right in the middle of the story, as it is happening. The writing is light and vivid, giving the words a life of their own as they seem to leap off the page for the reader. I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to any reader teenage to adult. Due to adult themes, I would not recommend it to younger teens.

© Sarah Tagert 2024

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About the Creator

Sarah Tagert

Changing the world one story at a time! I post articles three days a week on Medium and occasional poetry during weekend. Writing has always been in my blood. I have been writing since I was a teenager. I write what moves and inspires me.

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