Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Published: Little Brown and Company 2002
Recommended Age Group: 21 and Up
Summary: "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." After this gripping beginning Alice Sebold continues to capture the reader with her story of Susie's life on earth and her new life in heaven watching her friends, family, and killer from heaven. The beginning is about the rape and murder then Sebold goes on to tell us more about Susie, her family, and her killer. We learn that Susie and her family had a pretty good life together. Susie's mother didn't want to be a mother in the beginning but molded herself to her new role. She has a younger sister Lindsey who took Susie's death pretty hard. The youngest was Buckley, four at the time of her death. Susie's father was very close to her and made up for her mother's lack of enthusiasm for the children.
George Harvey, the killer, killed many people before Susie and at least one after her. He grew up with his Dad after his mother was forced to leave them. His mother taught him how to steal and called him her "little accomplice." From this rocky start a killer grew. He did not kill his first victim. He called his rape of he an accident and led himself to believe it. He was not punished and no one was notified of his crime. From this his attacks grew and then focused on children.
Susie looks down on her friends and loved ones from heaven and continues to live through them. She follows Ray Singh, the boy who gave her her first kiss, and Ruth Connors, the girl she saw on her trip from her body to heaven. Her family has a difficult time and a lot of struggles but in the end they are all stronger from this experience and while they still miss her terribly they are able to move on with their lives. Mr. Harvey ends up being killed when some icicles fall on his body and kill him.
Personal Notes: Alice Sebold tackles a tough topic with grace and beauty. I was a little worried when I heard that Susie was raped before she was killed but there is not a lot of detail and after it is described the initial time Sebold doesn't go back to it. This is definitely not a book for children or teens. There is a lot of adult content in the book and it is a difficult subject matter. It is also at times difficult to follow because Sebold jumps around between past, present, and the murder from several different peoples point of view. All in all, it's a pretty good book and an interesting take on the afterlife.