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The Lovely Bones is a 2002 novel by Alice Sebold. It is the story of a teenage girl who, after being murdered, watches from heaven as her family and friends go on with their lives, while she herself comes to terms with her own death. The novel received a great deal of critical praise and became an instant bestseller. A film adaptation of the novel, directed by Peter Jackson who personally purchased the rights, was released in American theatres on January 15, 2010.

On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon ("like the fish") is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer--the man she knew as her neighbor, Mr. Harvey.

Alice Sebold's haunting and heartbreaking debut novel, The Lovely Bones, unfolds from heaven, where "life is a perpetual yesterday" and where Susie narrates and keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case. As Sebold fashions it, everyone has his or her own version of heaven. Susie's resembles the athletic fields and landscape of a suburban high school: a heaven of her "simplest dreams," where "there were no teachers.... We never had to go inside except for art class.... The boys did not pinch our backsides or tell us we smelled; our textbooks were Seventeen and Glamour and Vogue."

The Lovely Bones works as an odd yet affecting coming-of-age story. Susie struggles to accept her death while still clinging to the lost world of the living, following her family's dramas over the years like an episode of My So-Called Afterlife. Her family disintegrates in their grief: her father becomes determined to find her killer, her mother withdraws, her little brother Buckley attempts to make sense of the new hole in his family, and her younger sister Lindsey moves through the milestone events of her teenage and young adult years with Susie riding spiritual shotgun. Random acts and missed opportunities run throughout the book--Susie recalls her sole kiss with a boy on Earth as "like an accident--a beautiful gasoline rainbow." Though sentimental at times, The Lovely Bones is a moving exploration of loss and mourning that ultimately puts its faith in the living and that is made even more powerful by a cast of convincing characters. Sebold orchestrates a big finish, and though things tend to wrap up a little too well for everyone in the end, one can only imagine (or hope) that heaven is indeed a place filled with such happy endings. --Brad Thomas Parsons

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ISBN-10:  0316666343
ISBN-13:  978-0316666343
Author:  Alice Sebold
Genre:  Drama, Light Horror, Supernatural Fiction, Life After Death
Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (June 2002)
Date Published:  (June 2002)
Format:  Hardcover: 328 pages, Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
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More The Lovely Bones (book) reviews
review by . July 14, 2010
The Lovely Bones, by author Alice Sebold, came out in 2002 but it wasn’t until this past winter that I picked up a copy to read. I knew that a movie version of the book was due out in January 2010, and call me masochist if you will, but I am big on comparing a best-selling novel to its over-hyped theatrical offspring. This book is one of obvious discomfort, from its very first few pages with the grisly murder of young Susie Salmon, a teenager living in a small Pennsylvania town. The …
Quick Tip by . June 18, 2011
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This is a book that I've been wanting to re-read for a long time. From what I recall, it was haunting, moving, and engaging. I read it quickly, and to some degree, I regret that fact because there are many details that I can't remember. I recommend people pass on the film and read the book instead. It's guaranteed to be 100x better.
review by . August 05, 2010
   I read this when it was fairly new and didn't know much about it. It turned out to be one of my all-time favorite novels. In my opinion, the film did not do the beautiful writing or the story line justice.      You know right away that the protagonist, Susie Salmon, is dead and telling the story from Heaven. You quickly learn that she was molested and killed, snatched on her way home from school. The book evolves with two sub-plots: One, her father's search …
review by . July 14, 2010
I admit I was hesitant to read this book as it clearly states teh death of the main character from the start. The book kept my interest throughout and I was unable at some points to put it down. The emotional factor of the book was up and down. It left me depressed in places and happy in others. I did especially love Susie's interpretation of heaven.     I would recommend this book to anyone that was interested in a thought provoking short novel. It is not a large …
review by . July 07, 2010
In 2002, Alice Sebold published The Lovely Bones.  And when she did it didn't actually take off immediately.  It was a book that slowly grew to have a large audience.  The book didn't actually take off and become ridiculously popular until a year or two (if even that) after it's publication.  The Lovely Bones has a reputation for being one of the most shocking books out there.  It begins tragically and terribly but ends on a fairly uplifting and happy note.  …
review by . July 02, 2010
           My emotions were crazy reading this book! I went from Happy to sad to mad to happy to scared for my own daughters! I hate that there really are sick people out there like this.      I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone. Especially girls. It's scary but I think it's important young girls know how easily these things can happen. I made my older daughter read this book, then when the movie came out I watched it …
review by . July 09, 2010
Absolutely Artistic
This is a story told by a 14 year old girl named Susie who was murdered during her short life. She speaks about how her Heaven looks to her and how she can still look down on earth at her family. She sees how everyone deals with her loss, and how her murderer's thought out plan to kill her wasn't his first. She sees that he has killed many young girls. Her father becomes obsessed with finding her killer, and her mother ends up dealing with Su …
review by . August 29, 2010
When the movie came out for The Lovely Bones, I started hearing about how good it was. I bought the book and once I began carrying it around, many more people told me how good it was. Half way through I stated it was one of the worst books I'd read recently. After finishing it, my statement remains true.      This book portrays Susie Salmon and her heaven as depressing. For years she stays up there watching her family fall apart, her friends grow up, and dreams of a boy's …
review by . July 02, 2010
For years my friends have been telling me to read this book, but the way they described it never seemed to entice me: "It's about this girl, who gets murdered, but she can still see her family and she's telling you about them." However, from the very first line, Alice Sebold had me reading. I couldn't stop, and I found myself trying to shout and warn Suzie or Lindsey every time something bad was about to happen. When we find out the horrible crimes that George Harvey commits, …
review by . June 16, 2010
A story about a young girl with so much left that she hasn't yet experienced whose life is ended suddenly and tragically by the desire and mania of one misunderstood man in her neighborhood and the family she leaves behind trying to grapple with their loss and inability to solve her murder / disappearance. When I first started reading I thought it might be another story about teenage heartbreak and school woes. Until the major incident that the whole story revolves around happened. The characters …
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