Book Review : The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Book Review : The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

– By Adam Wilby


This is now an available to rent DVD, the movie (for the benefit of those of you who don’t know) has Peter Jackson in the directors chair and a good job he makes of it as well.

However, to move onto the book, an excerpt on the back cover reads “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighbourhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertiliser”.

This eye-catching teaser is quite possibly how this book came to catch the eye of Peter Jackson. In the story Susie Salmon is raped and murdered in the first chapter by an adult from the neighbourhood known only as “Mr Harvey”. I did find myself wondering such thoughts as “Why should I care?” upon reading this as precious little had been revealed about Susie. It is only afterward when she is watching events unfold from heaven, the reaction of her family as the investigation moves from that of a missing person to a case of murder as evidence is gradually discovered.

In this version of heaven Susie’s world is what she wishes it to be, she still attends school but only her favoured classes, making friends along the way, while at the same time being almost fanatical about her desire for justice.

The thought occurs that there are several shades of grey in this book, an example being Susie’s mother making the decision to walk out on the family leaving the father to contend with the two surviving children being easy to criticise at face value. Upon her return several years later she finds she has paid a heavy price for what is seen as an act of betrayal when her children have grown to hate her.

All in all a very good read for what was Alice Sebold’s debut novel. I read it from cover to cover in about four days.

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