Horrifying, heartbreaking and emotionally haunting. The Lovely Bones was written in 2002 by Alice Sebold and is guaranteed to provoke any reader to feel an array of mixed emotions and absolute despair from the first page of the book to the very last. The novel contains an incredibly graphic and powerful storyline as it follows the life and afterlife of a young girl who is raped, murdered and later dismembered by a family friend with only an elbow bone discovered by a neighbours dog. Keep reading this post as I will be explaining just some of the many reasons why The Lovely Bones should be added to your reading list!

The Lovely Bones is portrayed from the point of view of a young girl named Susie Salmon and is unlike any other crime drama novel as the murder is revealed within the second sentence of the book. The twisted and sinister murderer is also revealed to the readers by the main character within the first few pages of the novel and is done so in a calm and helpless manner. 96934E0A-9A00-49FB-9EA9-B157D5431401This weak tone emphasises Susie’s complete lack of strength during her murder and the hurt she feels whilst watching upon her family from the afterlife unable to interfere. The distressing murder scene is so vividly written by Sebold that it continues to haunt me in day to day life and is one of the qualities which makes The Lovely Bones such an unforgettable novel.

In my opinion, this novel beautifully celebrates the importance of youth and innocence from a fourteen year olds perspective and forces the reader to realise how easily and quickly life can be taken away too soon. Alice Sebold manages to perfectly capture a realistic narrative of a fourteen year old girl with awkward one liners, boy crushes and an sweet sense of humour. The narrative is so immediately compelling that it encourages the readers to not want to let her go at the end of the book, just as Susie doesn’t want to let go of her past life filled with grieving family and friends. The disturbing murder of such a young girl with so much potential left me, and other readers, emerged in a sea of emotions of a great hatred for the murderer, endless sympathy for the Salmon family, pure misery for Susie and hope that justice is given to Susie and her family. These many strong and undying feelings are the one the main reasons that I love this novel as they remain with the reader even after finishing the novel.

Readers, I would strongly recommend you add The Lovely Bones to your reading list as it is incredibly thought provoking and most definitely provides a sense of catharsis and emotional exhaustion once finished. By reading this novel, I felt myself becoming increasingly exposed to a variety of new thoughts and felt able to fully emphasise with those families who have lost a loved one by through the evil act of another. This novel is explicit in the way that Susie watches the repercussions of her death among her friends and family by seeing how they adapt to life without her. She watches her parents love crumble away and her younger sister harden her heart after being known as the ‘sister of that murdered girl’. She also watches her murderer rejoice in his success and continue to claim his next victims. The fact that she is unable to interfere is what makes this novel so compelling and one of my favourite books.

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With much thought, I have decided to give The Lovely Bones a four and a half stars out of five. For me, I felt too disturbed at many parts of the novel and thought that too much detail was given within the rape scene. However, this is just my personal preference and I am aware that Alice Sebold most likely intended to craft this scene to be as horrific as possible!

Thank you for reading 🙂

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16 Comments

  1. I love this novel. I read it some years ago, and to this day it remains with me. I’ve gone back to it, re-reading passages, reliving the darkness. It stirs emotions in readers because it is written to do just that very thing. Yes, the rape scene is disturbing. But this is rape. Rape is never not disturbing. I felt hatred for the rapist. Good writers know how to manipulate readers into these emotions. This book is brilliant. It deserves all five stars I awarded. I cannot say as much for her follow-up, The Almost Moon. A good read, but certainly not on the level as The Lovely Bones. The best written books will haunt us. They are meant to. That’s the difference between a great and a good read.

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    1. Yes, I agree. The Lovely Bones definitely provides a cathartic experience for any reader. I love the way that Sebold presents the narrative in a way that portrays Susie’s youth and innocence which seems to harden by the end of the novel. I have wanted to read more of Sebold but have not started yet. Have you watched the film of The Lovely Bones? I think it would be interesting to see how the characters are shown in that ☺️

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      1. I have indeed viewed the film. It falls somewhat short of the novel. However, that is only because of Sebold’s vivid descriptions of Susie’s afterlife experience. Hollywood fell short in trying to recreate those images. The acting is superb. Saoirse Ronan shines as Susie. Stanley Tucci played Susie’s murderer. He says he almost declined the role because it was so dark. His wife, who was dying of cancer at the time, told him he had to do it. She felt it would truly challenge him. It did. He got an Oscar nomination for the role. But he says doing Julie & Julia, a comedy, as his next film was a blessing, in that it helped wash away the dirt he felt from portraying George Harvey. The movie touches very little on the rape. There’s nothing graphic. It’s more about the murder, Susie’s perspective, and her younger sister’s detective work in trying to prove George killed Susie. It’s worth a watch, but don’t expect the novel.

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      2. Ah okay. I have a lot of respect for Saorise Ronan as an actress. I’ve seen her in Brooklyn, which is another book that I have reviewed, and fits the role perfectly. I’m not surprised that the book exceeds the film as that is often the case. I can also understand Tucci’s doubts to play the role, it must have been mentally straining to try and put himself in the place of a rapist. I’ve heard of Julie and Julia before, would you recommend it? I’ll have to add The Lovely Bones and Julie and Julia onto my film list thanks☺️

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  2. Saorise Ronan was brilliant in Brooklyn! Julie & Julia is the true story of a woman named Julie who decided to make every recipe in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in one year. The film drifts from Julie’s life in 2000 to Julia’s life in Paris in the 1950’s. It goes back and forth. Not a bad film. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci work well together (they co-starred in The Devil Wears Prada). Amy Adams as Julie is also enjoyable to watch. She and Streep worked together in Doubt, another excellent film I highly recommend if you haven’t already seen it. I can recommend Julie & Julia as a fun sort of film.

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