The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (Book Review)

Friday, May 06, 2011 § 15

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Format: Hardcover, 330 pages

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

ISBN: 0-316-66634-3

With Film Version? Yes
Number of Times Read: 5x 

I thought it was the worst thing in the world to be lying flat on my back with a sweating man on top of me.... He was inside me. He was grunting.... I was the mortar. He was the pestle.... He had done this thing to me and I had lived. That was all.... I was still breathing. I knew he was killing me.... I did not realize then that I was already an animal dying.... "Tell me you love me", he said. Gently, I did. The end came anyway.... (Excerpt from the novel)

By now you would be thinking that The Lovely Bones is a blood-and-gore novel. It is so not! The excerpt appearing above are the only garish statements you could find inside the book. I promise that's all there is to it. All you have to do is stare at the front cover and you would know that it is a normal novel.

Except that it isn't.

In the novel, Susie Salmon is the narrator and, as she looks down from her heaven, she recounts how, at fourteen, she was raped and brutally murdered by their neighbor, Mr. Harvey. She sees how her family slowly falls apart and she can't do anything about it. How her strong Daddy is transformed into the fragile father of a daughter and a son who tried to be brave for him.. How brave the facade her sister Lindsey displays while deep inside she's shouting, "Susie, Susie, Susie..." How her Mom can't cope with her grief she has to find herself somewhere outside their home.. How little Buckley's heart gradually turns into stone as Susie's loss slowly takes place in their home and remains like mold growing on wine barrel..

And then there's Ray Singh-- Susie's only love. How he struggles to forget her. To erase her from his thoughts because he has to accept that what could have been between him and Susie would forever never be..

And Ruth. Who wants to tell everyone what she knew-- that the ghosts of the departed are nearby, watching their loved ones.. That they are part of the oxygen we are breathing.. Ruth.. Who learned to love Susie and paved the way for a miracle to occur..

All throughout the novel, I smiled, cried, laughed, laughed out loud, cried again, grimaced, was awed, smiled again then cried again and again.. I'm warning you, there will be a lot of uncontrollable sobs, how many times? I lost count! I swear I even bawled when I reached the most emotional passage, so prepare your tissues.

Susie's family's loss is just the hardest ordeal a family could face. Thankfully I never had to deal with that kind of loss. Yes, we had a few deaths in the family but none of these deaths were of the violent nature, just the normal process, like irreversible illness and old age. I'm glad I never had to feel their pain, their loss, their constant struggle to survive, dreading how each day they had to face that their Susie is gone forever.. How indeed are you supposed to go on living, when everywhere, you see that everyone around you, including yourself, are alive, and your daughter/ sister/ friend's corpse is lying in some unknown place, undiscovered? How, knowing that out there, your daughter's/ sister's/ friend's killer is still lurking? The crime might be solved, the suspect may be caught. But after all these? Nothing will ever be the same again. The victim would never be restored, the relationships destroyed, the events forever in the hearts of the people involved.

Alice Sebold managed to turn a tale of horror into a tale of humor and vibrant hope. You would know what I mean once Susie started talking and sharing how awful her death was but still, as her Dad would say, had a lot of spunk. In the novel, she had followed her family and friends, everyone she had on Earth and, at some point, had to make a difficult choice.

The Lovely Bones, as a whole, is a story of lives intertwined, of love, of hope, of joy and of heaven, the horror set aside.

Buy or Borrow: Buy! Buy! Buy! The film version was OK but not worth my bucket of popcorn. ((:

Nugget I learned (or I'd like to think, learned but forgotten in nursing school):  SARTORIUS: the longest muscle in the body running from the outside of the hip, to the inside of the knee.

Spirits/ Souls: Are they the same thing? On the novel: In the air between the living, spirits bob and weave and laugh with us. They are the oxygen we breathe.

Heaven: I like that Alice Sebold presented a new concept of heaven: that everyone dead has his own concept of heaven. Assuming that is true then I'd like to imagine my heaven as this:

perpetually cloudy afternoons,
a room full of every bestselling book imaginable,
the fastest internet connection,
pop, country and alternative rock music on the background,
and the largest collection of polka dot and floral dresses! 

I almost included all the people I love but wouldn't that be too selfish?
How about you? What is your version of heaven? ((:

Quotable Quotes:

"Look what happens when we dream."

"There wasn't a lot of bullshit in my heaven."

"You're dead and you have to accept it."

"Life is a perpetual yesterday for us (dead people)."

"All you have to do is desire it, and if you desire it enough
and understand why-- really know-- it will come."

"People grow up by living."

"When the dead are done with the living, the living can go on to other things."

"Nothing is ever certain."

"Because horror on Earth is real and it is everyday.
It is like a flower or like the sun; it can not be contained."

"The helplessness of being alive, the dark bright pity of being human-- feeling as you went--
groping in corners and opening your arms to light-- all of it part of navigating the unknown."

"Heaven wasn't perfect."

The new cover of the book when it came out in cinemas..

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