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.
Grey stone lay beneath my feet. My feet are cold and bare as the fog gently surrounds me in the frosty night. I look on in the patchy darkness, but my vision is obscured by the fog more and more. I settle myself down upon a rock by the big oak tree and I ponder life and my existence.
I miss you more and more.
Your death has made me hollow and changed me in a way that I don’t understand. People think that I am strange; I certainly have developed strange habits. I don’t take mourning you easily.
People tell me that as time goes by the loss of you will hurt less, or at least I’d learn to cope. But at the moment all I can think of is that it was only last week I saw you last, each day that goes on is more and more torture for me to bear, I can’t imagine not seeing you for a month, a year, a decade, half a century or however long I shall live.
Perhaps my new found madness shall kill me? If not that then the cold will.
The Earth is bleeding because it’s abused
Being took advantage of
It is wondering why we’re doing this; it’s looking for our love
No one owns this Earth of ours; its being is wholesome and free
Yet we claim her like an object, some sort of won trophy
Why do we abuse her so? Why do we crush her life?
When will we learn to love her? She makes a good housewife
All she does is care and nurture, all she does is breathe
Yet all we’re intent on doing is making her further grieve
Why not work with Mother Nature and love her like we should?
Why not stop this torture and treat her really good?
My poem here has ended, but the story continues on
Take care of our mother earth, so she can live on
See the silky blue epitaph across the evening sky, soon to be clouded by twilight within this spirits sigh
A little song I’m singing, about my life back there within the foreclosures of my mind it is better there
My existence is with darkness; my capacity for light is dead
I can no longer withstand the sun, my coffin is my bed
I will walk with strangers and know them well, like friends
But they will never know me, for their life I’ll bring to end
I do this very casually, like the beating heart
I’ll take their lives so swiftly, and tear their families apart
Through grief, if they’re loved
And I’m sorry for their pain
But I need my refreshments, and I’ll do it all again