Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel about the afterlife is certainly original. When Susie Salmon is raped and murdered at the age of 14, she begins to watch her family and friends deal with the loss from heaven. Yet her life on Earth hasn’t quite finished with her.
Telling a story from the point of view of a murdered teenage girl brings a lot of emotion to The Lovely Bones, and as a result, it is sometimes difficult to read. Susie, despite being in what she calls heaven, misses her family desperately and is heartbroken to see things turn out rather different to what she imagines.
Whilst I did enjoy Sebold’s novel, particularly for its originality, I did find it problematic. How can Susie know what the other characters are thinking and feeling? This was never explained and although the novel is somewhat supernatural, just because Susie is in the afterlife doesn’t necessarily mean that she has the ability to gain insight into other people’s thoughts.
The ending is also a bit disappointing and felt rushed. Susie Salmon’s story is heart-rending and incredibly powerful but the ending left much to be desired, which is a great shame.
The Lovely Bones is a good emotional read, if a rather depressing one, but don’t expect to be entirely satisfied come the end of the final page. Sebold’s novel has also been translated to the big screen by director Peter Jackson, starring Saoirse Ronan.
by Julia Molloy