The Lovely Bones

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This book has been (sort of) haunting me since I’ve finished the book and I thought I would just write my thoughts down just like Ruth in the book does.

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.

The Lovely Bones

BEASTLY

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Pages: 300

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

My Ratings: 5/5 (because it’s that good!)

What’s Beastly About:

I AM A BEAST.

A beast. Not quite wolf or gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature with fangs, claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a walking monster.

    You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. This place is New York City. The time is now. And I’ll stay this way forever – unless I can break the spell.

    Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, the perfect girl, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly … beastly.

Beastly was a book that I checked out of the library on impulse, and I’m not regretting it. In fact, I have to admit that it fueled my passion of reading even more, putting my reading hiatus on… well, hiatus.

Alex Flinn weaves many fairy tales together to form a completely refreshing yet familliar fairy tale in modern-day New York. The main one is the classic Beauty and the Beast. I think there was a little hint of Snow White ( the way Kyle’s father abandoned Kyle in the Brooklyn house, but not because of beauty but ugliness ) and The Phantom of the Opera ( how Kyle kept Lindy in the house ), and somehow I kept thinking of the Red Riding Hood while reading this novel.

“You will know what it is like not to be beautiful, to be as ugly on the outside as on the inside. If you learn your lesson well, you may be unable to undo my spell. If not, you will live with your punishment forever.”

Another thing I like is how the author focuses on the philosophy that looks don’t matter. It is emphasised probably in every chapter. Kyle’s snobbish attitude about looks had caused him to be in this beastly state, and the spell breaking is also based on that philosophy. Based on the fact that Lindy loved Kyle despite him being beastly. Looks are materialistic. And if you choose to look behind the looks, maybe you’ll see the real beauty.

You shouldn’t be worried of feeling bored. Some of the chapters are accompanied by excerpts of “online chats”, which I suspect is from Kyle’s Myspace. The online chats include characters like a mermaid ( who resembles Ariel from The Little Mermaid ), a frog ( from The Frog Prince ) and other characters who I can’t figure out where the originated from. The writing is based on Kyle’s thoughts, which are sarcastic, amusing and very teenager-like.

There are also mentions of many other books and movies: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera, Little Women, The Princess Bride for example. Alex Flinn is definitely a classic lover.

If you are a hopeless romantic, like me, you’ll definitely love this book.

Love is never ugly.

 “No I didn’t see a beast.”

“But if there’s a beast, maybe he’s just a regular guy with a skin condition or something. Maybe he just needs some understanding. Maybe we judge people too much by their looks because it’s easier than seeing what’s really important.”

– Kyle Kingsbury

BEASTLY