The Lovely Bones was something I picked up from the school library on a whim. I had heard of the movie, and when I saw the book I spared no thought and just added it onto the pile I was going to check out. It was very difficult and challenging to read this book.
The crime itself, the rape and murder of Susie Salmon, was the least harrowing of all. In fact, it was the easiest to comprehend for me, but I cannot really fathom why. One thing I find it hard to understand was the heaven or the afterlife, whatever you choose to call it. I am not the most religious person – I don’t even know what I believe in. For now I still call myself an agnostic. My idea of life is like a virtual game. We are all avatars or characters being controlled by a larger being, and all we achieve or lost is basically based on our skills, talent, hard work, determination and a fluctuating amount of luck. I don’t believe in heaven or afterlife. My idea of death is that after your last breath, you will close your eyes to darkness, darkness that is eternal and forever. And maybe, just maybe, you might be reborned later on, but I believe that your memories will be wiped out and you start fresh. So reading Susie’s perspective from Heaven was difficult, yet comforting. Comforting to read that Heaven is safe and comfortable for the dead.
I think what I really love about this book is that it gives you snippets and snapshots of all the different people’s lives, and how they carry on with their life and cope with Susie’s death. I love how realistic the book is, how in reality people don’t just pick up their lives from where they stop and continue on after a death like nothing happened. I love how the book touches on the issues all the different characters face, and how they struggle to cope. I love how Jack (Susie’s father) loves his late daughter so much that he never let goes of her memories, and how that impedes on his life and his family’s life. I love how Susie’s death made Jack love and protect his remaining daughter and son more, and how Lindsey and Buckley in turn be more protective and love their father more. I love the relationship between Lindsey and Samuel, how gentle and realistic and beautiful it was. I love how Hal and Samuel was somehow slowly incorporated into the Salmon family, and how they just seem to belong them. I love watching Buckley grow up, so mature yet nerdish and precious at the same time.
One of the things I couldn’t understand was Abigail (Susie’s mother). I don’t get how she could suddenly be attracted to Len in the immediate aftermath of her daughter’s death. I don’t get how she didn’t like her life as a mother and wife and always want to leave this life. If that was so, why didn’t she leave earlier? Why only after Susie’s death? But I really like how the author wrote in Abigail running away from her fears or old life, because I think that is something a lot of people do, run away. I like Abigail the most when she came back from San Franciso, back to her old life. I respect her strength and her courage. I also like how Lindsey’s and Buckley’s reactions was so realistic and blunt and how the author didn’t turn it into some sappy happily every after thing. And I am so envious of the love between Jack and Abigail, how distant yet close this relationship was and is.
I also don’t get how Ray started to love Susie, and Susie started to love Ray when they don’t know each other well. To me, that’s a crush and nothing more. I don’t believe in love at first sight (I only believe in adoration or attraction at first sight) and they were fourteen! Isn’t that too young to know surely if you’re in love?
Ruth is a complex character. Till now I still don’t know if she can see the dead. I don’t understand what she does in New York, finding people’s death site and stuff like that. And I completely dislike the part where she and Susie exchanged roles. Again, I don’t believe in an afterlife.
I love how cleverly Alice Sebold, the author, weaves in even the finest detail about the most minor characters. Mr Botte’s daughter’s death. Artie in the gifted sypnosium. Joe Ellis being affected about being misunderstand end by everyone. Ruana Singh’s marriage falling apart. Len coping with his life. Grandma Lynn and her drinking and craziness and loving her daughter and gaining her daughter’s acceptance finally. Mr Harvey and his childhood with his mother. I only wish that she had touched on more about George Harvey, about how he killed his other victims and Susie, and why.
Alice Sebold’s musings about the bones was complicated. To say I understood everything will be a lie. I don’t understand the book fully, and I admit I will never pick up this book again for a re-read. This book was depressing yet hopeful, complicated yet simple and it put me in emotional turmoil. There are certain parts where I felt like crying or actually teared up a bit, and there were parts where I smiled, and I think those parts was the loveliest bits of the book.
I guess these are my thoughts. I think writing this out probably allowed me to accept the fact that I loved and disliked this book at the same time, and that I never really truly understood this book.