The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold churns most reader’s stomachs whenever they pick up and read the first page, let alone chapter; it is purely because of the subject matter, a young girl barely in her teens is raped and murdered by her neighbour. Although I did find the subject matter very difficult, I saw over all of that and continued to give the book a chance. It is something outside of the genre I would usually read, but as I read on, I realised that actually, this book deserves to be noted as a fantasy novel rather than a crime one which most people assume it to be.
When you overcome the violence and the graphicness of this novel you will come to realise that it is a beautiful story about a young dead girl coming to terms with her own death and trying to let her living family go. Until she lets them go in her heart, they cannot stop grieving, she is the key to how much they grieve or not – the more she clings onto the living the less likely they are to heal quickly from their loss of her.
This is a lesson that Susie Salmon is learning throughout the entire novel, as well as realising that her little experience of heaven is only the beginning of what is beyond that mysterious door she keeps seeing. It is a story about Susie’s observations of the living, including the life of her murderer Mr. Harvey and her adventures in the limbo heaven with other murdered victims. How they are trying to use their imagination to create a world in which they want to be in, whilst dead.
The mysterious door can only be opened to Susie once she decides to move on and try not to think and worry too much about the living, when the door is opened, she can in effect find peace. Perhaps she gets reincarnated? Perhaps she goes to true heaven? Nobody knows, but it would be lovely to think of it in such terms. That is why I find the book is beautiful. Forget the violence; forget the sordidness, just read the book to the end. It is a treasure; it is in my top ten favourites of all time. It is very touching and there is justice in this book, though it is very obscure and indirect.