Throwback Thursday involves me picking a book I’ve previously read to talk about, today I’m going to discuss The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.
The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder — a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family’s need for peace and closure.
The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.
Sebold creates a heaven that’s calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive — and then some. But Susie isn’t ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature.
The Lovely Bones was the first standalone novel that I ever read; it took me months & months to finish it because, at the time, I wasn’t an avid reader & I would put it down & pick it up randomly, but one thing that was true the entire time was that I loved it.
I was first made aware of The Lovely Bones when I watched the film & eventually I ended up with a copy (although I cannot remember how); the book has so much more to it than the film & to this day I still haven’t read a book that is written in the same style & has worked as well as it did in The Lovely Bones. The story is creepy & chilling, full of suspense & emotion, & is generally just a very gripping tale; but it is also strange & I remember the book being quite confusing at times. This book also isn’t one for the faint hearted as it contains some really awful themes, all of which are quite obvious from the synopsis above.
I really need to reread this book as it’s been years since I have & I don’t remember all of the details so I can’t really write much more about it – but it is a brilliant read that will always be on my bookshelves.