The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Books such as The Lovely Bones get so much love and hate that people forget that a novel can both have good and bad to it, and take as it is, there were some things I liked about the book and there were other things that were not so crash hot.

The story is written from the perspective of Susie Salmon who was recently raped and murdered by a creepo in his mid-30s, George Harvey — a mature dude who likes to build dollhouses. The entire novel is looking at the consequences of her death from Susie’s perspective on her family and her friends. It is not the story of the hunt for Susie’s killer, even though it does have a part of it in the novel.

Actually, first and foremost, the Lovely Bones is a family drama. It explores loss and how it changed those affected, and Sebold excelled in weaving this fabric, which untangles after Susie’s death, and patched eventually only through the passage of time. Time heals everything, it seems. The death of Susie Salmon brought forth a rift between the parents, the dad determining to pursue George Harvey and never failing to remember his dead daughter, the mum wanting to forget everything — even her responsibilities as a mother.

Abigail, the mother, in fact, is my favourite character in the book even though she took decisions which were selfish and hurt her family, she is well written because of her errors. I saw her failure to care, to stop involving herself with the rituals that comes with the death of a daughter as her failure as a mother. Increasingly, she becomes more and more detached to the point that she commits adultery and left the family altogether.

But that’s where the positives ended for me. There are problems with this book that kept it as a half a week’s read instead of an afternoon guzzler. It is easy enough to read, but the pacing drags — there were heaps of slow burn moments that oftentimes led to nowhere. I don’t have much issue with the language, but there are occasional cringey sentences that stop you dead in your tracks.

And through perhaps my own fault, I couldn’t care less about the characters. I can tell you the characters in the book, what they like and what they do, how they end up, but I had no emotional investment to any of them aside from the mother — who’s actually the most vile character in the book aside from George Harvey.

And the ending — WHAT THE FUCK? She just goes back to earth as another girl and screws the bloke that she’s been stalking with while she’s been dead eight years? What. What??? And the mum comes back and everybody is happy again, and there are happy coincidences here and there. And George Harvey died from a falling icicle? Ah man, the disappointments just don’t stop. I thought the book was alright until the final 50 pages.

The next book I had in line next to my bed was The Time Traveller’s Wife. And like this book, it has rave reviews on the cover. One critic even mentioning that it’s the next Lovely Bones. Umm, no thanks. I think I’ll read a few more books before coming back to this one.

A full time project manager who loves to read on the side. Connect with me to chat anything tech and lit.