Book Review: Lovely Bones

On my flight to Boston last weekend, I forgot to pack a book and even though I was running on 2 hours of sleep it made my flight a little uncomfortable. Traveling without at least one book makes me feel just as uneasy and naked as how most people feel when they leave their cellphones at home. Usually when I travel I like having lighter books to read. The faster the better for airplane rides. Mary Ellen took me to her favorite used book store in Braintree, Massachusetts and I made sure to find something light in addition to the Sartre and Faulkner. I also picked up an intriguing book called Lucifer Effect, a nonfiction about how good people turn evil. None of these are light. I finally stumbled on Lovely Bones. I’ve been meaning to read this book since it made the Best Seller’s List a couple of years ago? I have even picked it up at libraries before and other used book stores and I vaguely remember not being hooked. I have no idea why. I seriously remember picking up this book at least a handful of times, flipping through, being bored, and putting it back.

I don’t remember why or how I could put it back, The first two sentences really does engage and intrigue you. “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” The rest of the novel is narrated by Susie as she watches over her friends and family and murderer from her heaven. I usually have a hard time with religious imagery but I didn’t find this religiously intrusive at all. (I’ve only read one other book with heaven as a setting and that was over 5 years ago and that is Five People You Meet in Heaven – which I wholeheartedly recommend! )

The reason why I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars is the ending. I didn’t really care too much for it. Also, I made an allowance for heaven in my reading but towards the end there was an incident that I found completely made the book a little hokey. I don’t want to give it away but uh, look for it in chapter 22. That was about where I lost my hardon for this book. The ending was a little anticlimactic for me which was something I was worried about throughout the novel but what I do appreciate about this book is that it was so difficult to put down. Alice Sebold never lost my attention as do many sad fictions go. I didn’t find myself giving up (Time Traveler’s Wife) or being resentful of the time wasted afterwards (Memory Keeper’s Daughter and My Sister’s Keeper ). I felt empathy for all characters except the mother which was a contrast to my feeling NO empathy for anyone in My Sister’s Keeper.

I especially recommend this book to:

Those who enjoyed Five People You Meet in Heaven and To Kill a Mockingbird

P.S. They’re making a movie of this book. I like the cast. I’ll watch it even though I’m not expecting much from the movie.