Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Overview Thursday: The Lovely Bones


I didn’t want to make a review, per say, for this book; but I would like to talk about it. For anyone who hasn’t read it though, I’ll put the synopsis here:

"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."

So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her -- her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.

Keep in mind that everything I say here is my opinion. I rated this book four stars on Goodreads the second time I read it. The first time, it only received one star. I’ll explain why.

If you learn about a book from a movie trailer, make sure you get some information on the book before you buy it. I learned about The Lovely Bones from the trailers that played before the New Moon: The Twilight Saga premiere. I was enthralled by Susie’s voice as she announced her murder, and the scenes that showed her in heaven, entrance by its beauty. I got sucked in when it showed her sister running for escape, her father in the cornfield searching for her murderer, Susie watching everything in her heaven crumble around her. This trailer was awesome.

But it led me into thinking The Lovely Bones was going to be... I don’t know, involved. The day after the movie I went to Wal-Mart and bought the book, and the first eighty pages had me. I liked it. But after that, it became a struggle.

The grief was there, but the way that her family coped with it didn’t feel real. Several things that Sebold placed among the pages of Susie’s chronicle were not things I could picture happening. For example, when Susie mentions everyone starts seeing her in her sister, as the ‘dead girl’. Okay, but Susie mentions she and Lindsey look nothing alike. Where I’m from, people wouldn’t be treated that way.

Lindsey completely pushes everyone away. Her own family. It’s ridiculous. I know everyone deals with grief differently, but if my sister had just died, I wouldn’t lock myself in my room. Considering this (TECHNICALLY, SORT OF) happened, and I don’t, it just makes even less sense to me. GRIEVE, GIRL!

This is one of my biggest pet peeves on the book: Susie’s mother. I hate Susie’s mother. I hate her with the passion of a thousand burning suns. If you like her mother, skip this next sentence. She is a sick, worthless, pathetic, selfish, weak, and annoying woman who does not deserve what she got: reacceptance back into the family. She turned into a hollow shell when she accepted Susie was dead. She pushed her husband away, her children became mere nuisances.

Okay. My mom didn’t push my dad away when my sister died. When I was born she doted on me. This book isn’t how things work! Not to mention Susie’s mom starts having an affair. It’s sick that the man (the DETECTIVE, no less) actually let her do it.

Um wow, I’ve covered enough hate. Let me get onto the reasons of why I liked it. After I finished the first read, I was completely lost. I felt like the book could have been a 250 page book and it would’ve been much better. But within the past few weeks I found myself wanting to give it another chance, now that I knew there wasn’t as much involvement as I’d hoped. Finally I got it out again.

I tried to see it from a perspective other than my family’s when I read it this time through, and it felt somewhat more realistic. I feel like Sebold was trying to write the book like a classic, and therefore several things were written too sugary and wordy to seem rational. The prose of the book is admirable, but it puts Susie far beyond her years and therefore even less practical.

But the events of the book do, in a way, make sense.

The process of the grief is the most down-to-earth thing there. The disbelief, the anger, the hurt, the running away... It’s all there. It makes sense. Just the fashion in which it’s carried out is what bothers me. The novel explains Susie’s story in a way that makes people feel both connected and disconnected. My favorite characters in the book were her father and Buckley. They were the most connected.

Allow me to cover two more characters before I finish this—Ray and Ruth. I liked Ray. He suffers more than most from Susie’s death in an unfair fashion, but he moves on and makes something great out of his life. He never gets over his love for Susie, and that’s good. You should never forget your first love. I did have an issue when he didn’t mind having sex with Ruth’s body even if it was Susie.

As for Ruth, she I liked her character well enough, but... She let one spare moment of her life consume her entire being, her existence. I could understand, maybe, if I were her. But the supernatural abilities she gains just don’t settle. Being able to see where women and children have died, recording what happens, researching it later; writing creepy poetry, getting high, just being weird in general. I understand all this. But it makes her confusing. She’s a really bumpy character that doesn’t feel like one person; she feels like three. You can’t grasp her.

Now in one paragraph I will sum up what changed my opinion of The Lovely Bones: It has heart. Susie cares for her friends and family with a passion I cannot help but admire. Passion makes for a book that a few people will inevitably fall in love with. I wasn’t one of them, but I respect it enough that I will no longer hate the book. Heck, I may even reread it again sometime. It isn’t the best book, but it is worth the I think.

Have you ever allowed yourself to be misled by social media? Do you agree with The Lovely Bones’ bestseller status? Do you like the book? If so, or if not, why? Put your opinions in the comments; I’d love to see them!


  1. I read this book, and I agree, the mother got me MADDD! But I guess her motivations miighhht have made sense. I think the thing is that everyone deals with grief in different ways.

  2. I agree. Everyone does, but in the book the different ways everyone dealt with it was just out of whack, especially with Susie's mother. Uuuugh. Least favorite character to EVER exist.

  3. Social media does have a way of taking things in a one-way direction. Regardless of the reality behind it. Funny how that works.
    Nice to meet you through the IWSG!

  4. Same here! (:
    It is strange. I was reading the book, expecting there to be this huge buildup and blowOUT of epic, like there was in the trailer, and was really disappointed when I didn't get it - hence my one-star-rating the first time I read it. (;

  5. When I see things like 50 Shades on the bestseller list, I know there's something screwed up somewhere. Seriously, there are bad books being published -- and bought! -- while good books by good authors get rejected or gather dust on the bookshelves.

  6. It's also not that they're being published - books that have been published forever ago are coming back with a vengeance... It's definitely strange, but it is sad that so many good books get rejected now all to keep the books that are popular now on the shelves.