The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder — a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family’s need for peace and closure.
The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.
Sebold creates a heaven that’s calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive — and then some. But Susie isn’t ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature.
It’s no good when I start out a review with a gif and nothing else otherwise. Also, for those of you who normally read my reviews, you will notice a lack of stars. I did finish the book, it’s not because of that. It’s because of conflict in my feelings about the book and own morals. Basically, by the end of this review, you’ll probably understand why I can’t give it any stars.
I’ll try this spoiler free to begin.
There were a lot of things to enjoy about this book. The idea to start with. It’s the first I’ve come across quite like that. The synopsis definitely caught my eye hence why I downloaded the ebook and set it up for currently reading. A girl murdered, telling her story from her version of heaven. I’ll start off with the afterlife concepts.
I think what really made me keep reading was the fact that while yes it used heaven, religion and an idea of a god wasn’t being shoved down my throat. Heaven really just seemed like the convenient word to use for a positive afterlife. I’m not religious, I don’t usually have anything against it, that being said, don’t need it shoved down my throat. This wasn’t that. It was an interesting take on what happens, how it works and the perspective was one I enjoyed.
It’s also the perspective of a 14 year old. So, it wasn’t always all that mature. That’s more or less expected though. It’s like writing about a toddler that speaks in perfect sentences—and I have read that before sadly—not going to happen. The way of thinking, of describing and how she saw the world really fit with the worldview I was expecting. It was mature for her age which I always like.
Sometimes it was a tad boring, it’s a bad sign when I’m skimming through to find out what happens next and skip a long-winded or just generally unnecessary paragraph. The editor definitely could have been harsher on this book…this author is lucky I wasn’t the editor. I would have cut quite a bit out and changed around a lot of silly over-exaggerated metaphors.
The important part that does remain though is that I wanted to know what happened. I liked seeing the journey the story was taking. The idea of a girl dead, stuck at age 14 and watching her family, her younger siblings, grow to ages she would never see is a very real thing and I think the concept was portrayed really well.
So otherwise this story really could’ve been anywhere from a 3-4 star rating. For those of you who don’t mind the next bit, feel free to go off of that explanation. Because I will say, I loved the ending, it rounded out nicely, and lives were working out. It wasn’t a tragedy.
Here’s my problem.
Which I can only introduce with details so here comes the SPOILERS
DO NOT CONTINUE AFTER THIS POINT IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS.
Let’s see, where did it go wrong?
Probably the part where suddenly Susie was falling from heaven, Ruth going to heaven? and Susie taking over Ruth’s body for a brief time. Okay…I think I can deal with that since Ruth obviously shows very psychic abilities throughout the novel and this is something she might be fine with, even okayed. She was always very concerned about the idea of Susie, her possible ghost and what happened to her.
Yea my problem comes along with the Ray has sex with Susie-in-Ruth’s-body part. Excuse me, “make love”…twice.
This story. Begins. With the rape and murder of a fourteen year old girl by her neighbour. And the impact/aftermath on her family, her journey to find her own peace in the after life yada yada yada.
But this story is also about the rape and murder of a human being.
So why the fuck is it okay to have the ghost of said dead girl, take over a now 20-something year old former classmates body, and proceed to have sex with a crush from before she was killed. In a body. That isn’t hers.
It’s Ruth’s body.
Ruth is currently not inhabiting that body.
That body is not Susie’s
Susie’s body is dismembered, in a safe, in a sinkhole.
Ruth cannot consent to her body being used to have sex with a guy she is not involved with because I was pretty sure she was also a lesbian. But besides that point.
SHE WASN’T THERE. BUT IT WAS HER BODY
Like bloody hell
She was raped. Now she is using someone else’s body to have sex with someone who had a crush on her 5+ years ago. Rape. Not consent. Not Susie’s right to give consent. That’s like, my friend is drunk, her crush is at the party. She passes out and I tell her crush she likes him and wants to have sex. Except she’s drunk and unconscious. Doesn’t matter if I know she likes him. I can’t give consent on her behalf.
I want to hit my head off the wall/keyboard/anything because this is so ridiculous to be even going over.
Yea. I can’t rate this book. I’m done. Over. Finished. Can’t.
Really mad now.
But basically, I enjoyed the book otherwise. The ending after included. Problem was mostly that I skimmed it and it confused me and it kinda sat with me for a bit until I went back re-read it. Then read a site that describes it all, in much less over-explained ways.
It comes down to it though, that I feel if I gave this book a regular rating, because I enjoyed everything else, I would be doing a wrong to my beliefs and what I stand for. I would be brushing a rape off as nothing, as insignificant. Because I must remind you. Alice Sebold, describes it, SEVERAL TIMES, as “made love”. Perpetuating rape culture much…
Yea, after that rant I really can’t go and rate this four stars, even three. It can’t be rated because I have legitimately lost all and any respect I could have had for this author. It wasn’t necessary to the plot line what she did, nor did she even make it out to be wrong. Made it seem right and something that was supposed to be seen as wonderful even.
So Alice Sebold, hopefully you see this post someday. I’m honestly disgusted.
Until next time,