The Lonely Bones
By Alice Sebold
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, begins with a fourteen-year-old girl telling us about her life and death. The girl, Susie Salmon, is now in heaven as she watches down on her world as everyone copes with her death. One day as Susie walks home from school, a neighbor stops her while she is taking a shortcut. The neighbor takes Susie into a structure he has built within the ground where he rapes her and ultimately kills her. Days later, a neighborhood dog brings her elbow into sight causing a ruckus. As the police begin to investigate her murder, Susie watches from heaven as her family and friends suffer from her mysterious disappearance.
The book continues on for multiple years as Susie watches how her family and friends live without her. She sees her friends mature and develop into young adults. She must watch as her parents grow apart after her death and her younger siblings grow up without an older sister. The book then concludes years later when Susie sees her younger sister with her newborn baby. In the end we also watch as Susie sees an older man recover her long lost charm bracelet that we see on the cover.
I definitely enjoyed reading this book, which I can’t say is true with all the books I have read for a class. It was well written and it made you want to continue, whether that is true from the writing or the pure fact that it is considered a mystery or thriller. I don’t want to say that everyone would enjoy this book because it does deal with a fourteen-year-old girl and her life, something that a teenage boy may not find very captivating.
The whole concept of the book interested me as well; you have this teenage girl who is looking down on her friends and family back on earth while she is in heaven. This allows for the author to have the book jump around to different people and events, as they occur to keep the book moving. Since this book is turning into a movie I am especially interested how this will be portrayed on the big screen, it seems to pose quite a challenge.
Why is this book “dangerous?”:
While The Lovely Bones has been praised it has also received some negative responses. The book involves the main character being in heaven, not just a generic heaven but one personalized to her tastes and personality. Some people believe that Alice Sebold is questioning some aspects of religion. They considered her version of heaven to have no God and to have no kind of judgment for those entering heaven. Sebold came back at the readers who criticized her heaven with this, “To me, the idea of heaven would give you certain pleasures, certain joys – but it’s very important to have an intellectual understanding of why you want those things. It’s also about discovery, and being able to come to the conclusions that elude you in life.” Books don’t always have to be politically correct; if they were, every book would be practically the same. The author gets to develop their own ideas that may be questioned or interpreted differently than they had hoped.
The Lovely Bones has also been taken out of many school libraries due to its explicit content. The book does deal with a fourteen-year-old girl and so the book has been put into some middle school libraries so that some of the older kids could read it. It was when fifth graders were seen reading the book that parents became worried. In March of 2008 a parent from Massachusetts tried to get the book pulled from the shelves of the middle school library in which her children attended. She said, “They say this book is about healing and hope, which it’s not. The guy committing the crime doesn’t get punished. The mom runs away from her family.” The book does deal with healing and hope but it is on a deeper level, one that a sixth grader may not understand, which is why it may not be a bad thing to keep it out of some middle school libraries.