By Alice Sebold
Paperback, 328 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Little Brown and Co. (first published July 3rd 2002)
ISBN 0316166685 (ISBN13: 9780316166683)
“These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections – sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at a great cost, but often magnificent – that happened after I was gone.”
Alice Sebold’s debut novel revolves around the life and death of Susie Salmon who was mercilessly raped and killed at age fourteen by her psychotic neighbor George Harvey. After the gruesome event that ended Susie’s promising life on Earth, her soul continued to live or so it seems somewhere “in between”. A place where new souls stopover and spend time in a heaven of their own concept. It’s a paradise where nothing is beyond grasp, except life.
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The greatest mistake I did before leafing through the pages of this book was checking out its reviews online. Most reviews gave brutal tirades that started on the author’s use of absolutely confusing metaphors like: “The tears came like a small relentless army approaching the front lines of her eyes. She asked for coffee and toast in a restaurant and buttered it with her tears.” and ended on the conclusion of the latter’s incapability to even write a decent novel. Although I do agree that I was quite irked with some play on words that were used, I believe that reading Lovely Bones was indeed a very heart-felt experience. I think this matters more than being very clinical with the technicalities in writing.
- I felt my heart pound when Mr. Harvey began talking to Susie in the creepiest manner, when Lindsey broke into the his house and when I thought Samuel and Lindsey won’t make it home after graduation. Also, I felt like being on the verge of tears and can just imagine Susie still hearing her mom in the background calling her for dinner and even saying something about Buckley’s new drawing posted on the fridge, when the unspeakable was happening to her.
- I was relieved that the story was not delivered in a way that she’d have to dwell on hunting down Mr. Harvey, because that would have felt quite a burden to read. She was focusing more on the people she loves rather than her violator. People must understand that for a typical fourteen year old life is just that simple, I guess.
The conclusion of the story wasn’t epic at all, but was not bad either like what I have expected based on the bad reviews. The fact that the Salmon family moved on and started putting the broken pieces together by themselves, without needing the help of Susie’s apparition or soulful intervention makes it very realistic. The book made us see how a family will be torn to pieces after a sudden tragedy and how they go through certain stages of denial, rage, and finally, acceptance.
On the same note, it also left a tickle in our imagination on how would our own heaven look like. Maybe, mine would smell of apples, with swirls of marshmallows and cotton candies for clouds that give chocolate rain. It will have lettuce leaves for tree with a hint of Caesar dressing on its tip shaped like a morning dew. It will also have towering bookshelves filled with books of all volumes and from authors of all time in every corner. A place where time is really gold and where happiness is just around the corner.
That’s my own heaven. How about you? What will yours be made of?