Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review: The Lovely Bones

You may have seen the movie The Lovely Bones, but have you picked up the book, yet?

I saw the movie quite a while ago, so when I started reading the book, by Alice Sebold, I had a vague sense of what would be happening throughout, but nothing too definite. I honestly can't remember now if we had had any kids when I first saw the movie.

If you have kids, and you're sensitive to crimes against children (or even if you don't have children and you're sensitive to that), I really don't recommend you read this book. The beginning is a pretty brutal portrayal of what befalls 14-year-old Susie, and it made me a little ill to read it.


The rest of the book deals with Susie looking down from heaven and watching how her family and friends deal with her murder. She also follows her murderer at various points, which provides a different level of interest because you keep waiting and waiting for him to be found out and punished . . .

While I enjoyed the book for what I feel is probably an accurate portrayal of what families go through and how loss affects people very differently, I would not call it an uplifting book. While her family struggles on earth, even Susie is not particularly happy in heaven. It's heaven! I can't imagine not being happy and content there; and if I were to lose someone close to me (I'm talking about an unexpected death) I wouldn't want to imagine them anywhere but in a heaven where they feel every happiness all the time. I guess you could say I was a little disappointed with the portrayal of heaven.

Most of the characters in the book are likable, which is good because if they weren't I don't think The Lovely Bones would have enough redeeming qualities in it for me to say that I liked it.

As a parent myself, it's gotten more and more difficult to watch movies or read books dealing with child death. I can't imagine how I would deal with it myself, and it tends to make me a little morbid for a couple days.

I know I wouldn't re-read this book, but it easily kept me reading when I had free time. It was just okay to me, but not something I would recommend people run out and buy right now, as I would with other novels.

If you've read The Lovely Bones, you might be interested in Lucky: A Memoir, which is also by Alice Sebold. It recounts Sebold's own rape as an 18-year-old and how she overcame it. This has an even more brutal account of her victimization, but I enjoyed the uplifting and inspiring aspects of this book more than The Lovely Bones. Check it out!

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