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Sebold's "The Lovely Bones"

August 20, 2012 - Jodelle Greiner
You know right away that Susie, the main character of Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones”, is dead. What makes this book unique is that Susie is the book’s narrator.

Susie tells how she was killed — and by whom — in the first chapter.

This is not a whodunit, but a look at what happens to the people left behind when someone is murdered, how lives fall apart and some come together.

The book has an eerie quality, heightened by the fact that Sebold melds Susie’s narrative of past, present and supernatural all together for a surreal aura. Susie discusses aspects of her murder and murderer, how her family copes in the aftermath, and what she’s experiencing in “my heaven” all in the same breath. Sometimes it gets a little confusing and you have to concentrate to keep the timeline straight.

You also have to suspend your disbelief with some of the supernatural aspects, which I found difficult to do in one particular instance near the end.

This is one of those books that has a “flowy” quality to the storyline. Not everything is nice or pretty or definitive. People don’t always behave with honor or cope in the “right” way. Sometimes that will make you dislike them, other times it will endear you to them. Some of the characters that society would say were off the beaten path turn out to have the most honor and be the linchpins that hold the others together. While Sebold leaves some things hanging in the end, she also gives hope that there will be a future resolution, if not a happy ending.

As for Susie’s killer, pay attention to some neat foreshadowing of justice, but not justice in the typical way. Just like in life, we don’t always get to see the answers to our questions in a nice, neat package. But we do have to move on and create a new life.


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