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The Lovely Bones (2002)

by Alice Sebold

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
33,79891964 (3.7)685
This is the tale of family, memory, love, and living told by 14-year-old Susie Salmon, who is already in heaven. Through the voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and builds out of her family's grief a hopeful and joyful story.
  1. 51
    Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Maiasaura)
  2. 84
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (leahsimone)
  3. 20
    The Little Friend by Donna Tartt (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books display the effects on a family of the murder of a child.
  4. 53
    White Oleander by Janet Fitch (leahsimone)
  5. 21
    The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard (WildMaggie)
  6. 10
    The Invisible by Mats Wahl (Litrvixen)
    Litrvixen: Both are about ghosts observing the investigations into their own deaths.
  7. 11
    Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (jbarry)
  8. 11
    The Book of Fred by Abby Bardi (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: Not as sentimental as this. A very good coming of age novel.
  9. 33
    The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (Headinherbooks_27)
  10. 11
    Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (Jen7waters)
  11. 00
    Shade by Neil Jordan (ShelfMonkey)
  12. 00
    Unstolen by Wendy Jean (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold may be paired withUnstolen by Wendy Jean. Both novels deal with death and crime and how it affects the families left behind
  13. 11
    The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Despite differences in plot -- a teenager's post-murder afterlife in The Lovely Bones, and civilization's slow, steady collapse in the aftermath of disaster in The Age of Miracles -- the thoughtful young heroines of these melancholy, haunting stories are similar to one another.… (more)
  14. 00
    The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor (meggyweg)
  15. 23
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (RocknRain)
  16. 01
    La mirada del otro by Fernando G Delgado (albavirtualy)
  17. 01
    Lark by Tracey Porter (kaledrina)
  18. 01
    Where I Want to Be by Adele Griffin (jbarry)
    jbarry: touching arration from heaven
  19. 12
    The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue (cataylor)
    cataylor: Story is told by a character from the afterlife
  20. 01
    La fortuna de Matilda Turpin by Álvaro Pombo (albavirtualy)

(see all 28 recommendations)


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» See also 685 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 890 (next | show all)
I was enjoying this book until the ending. And then I hated it. ( )
  SofiaKlatzker | Sep 30, 2022 |
Several years have passed since the publication of Alice Sebold's most famous novel, but back when it was released, The Lovely Bones hit the literary world in a perhaps surprising way. Bluntly dealing with the effects of a young girl's rape and murder and her family's reactions, Alice Sebold uses interesting writing techniques to delve into different viewpoints and point out the enormous impact of such a horrifying family disaster.

In case you haven't read this book yet, it is easy to enter it with wrong expectations. Is it a gruesome, horrifying and tear-jerking account of one family's devastating fate? At some points yes, but overall it is written with a rather hopeful undertone, emphasizing the author's intention to balance out the different elements of the story. Early on in the novel, the main character Susie Salmon is raped and killed on her way home from school, with her soul ascending to heaven. Alice Sebold creates a comforting and soothing image of the heaven Susie's soul rests in to compensate the horrible time Susie's family has to go through in the wake of her death. The book has been confronted with very mixed opinions; after all, even on Goodreads you will find about as many 5-star ratings as you can find 1-star ratings.

Susie's voice accompanies the reader throughout the entirety of the novel, yet she often withdraws into the position of an observer; Sebold presents us with the family's reactions and the events surrounding the search for Susie's real murderer, but rarely gives Susie a chance to comment on what she is capable of seeing from her position in heaven. Thus it may be difficult to relate with any of the characters, even though the author still succeeds in painting a convincing picture of a family's mourning and their longing to find peace again which can only be achieved by the murderer's arrest and punishment. In addition, the narrative is difficult to get into since Susie seems to be capable of reading the minds of her family with no explanation given; apparently Alice Sebold expected us to accept and embrace Susie's ability, but it left me disturbed because Susie kept switching between being an observer and a mind reader.

Susie's heaven in the 2009 movie adaption.

If you have watched the movie, then you should give another thought to reading the book since it approaches the story in a more insightful and moving way than the movie succeeded to do. On the other hand, if you only know the book, you will not regret not watching the movie since it isn't an adaption you could necessarily call 'successful' (or you may watch the trailer which spoils everything that happens in the movie).

Even apart from all the criticism this novel certainly deserved, it can still be recommended for quite a lot of strengths: in the writing of her book, Alice Sebold knew how to convincingly portray a grieving family; she knew how to create a heaven without losing herself in religious details and possibly contradicting descriptions which can easily occur with such a difficult topic. As many readers also pointed out, the first 20% of the novel were mesmerizing and intriguingly written, and during the rest of the book it constantly loses its appeal, then picks it up again only to lose it again after another couple of pages. You may love it or hate it, every reader might find a different approach to either embrace the beautiful aspects of the novel (which were definitely present), or to criticize the rather offsetting moments. (To give an example, right before the ending a scene occured which I had to completely block out of my memory because it made me want to throw my book against the wall in frustration.)

One of the book's greatest qualities may be that it somehow manages to stay with you. However, even if the premise interests you there is no guarantee you will love the book, just as you may like it even though the premise sounds dull to you. Personally, I liked the novel (definitely more than the movie), but neither did it convince nor annoy me. If you haven't yet, you may want to wait with reading the book until you really feel in the proper mood for it. ( )
  Councillor3004 | Sep 1, 2022 |
So unbelievable ( )
  wincheryl | Jun 20, 2022 |
A gentleman I spoke to at the convention contended that this book was pure fantasy. I read it because it's come up a lot. I found it to be too close to life and not likeable enough for fantasy. It flows well. It is an interesting story. I like what she does with heaven. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
An exceptional book, moving, gripping and beautiful. I loved everything about it and found it to be as insightful and helpful (and hopeful) a meditation on loss as you could hope to read. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 890 (next | show all)
Sebold's compelling and sometimes poetic prose style and unsparing vision transform Susie's tragedy into an ultimately rewarding novel.
added by bell7 | editLibrary Journal (Aug 25, 2009)
Although some sections tend toward melodrama... other passages are dreamy and lyrical. Most striking is Sebold's mastery of a teenager's voice, from such small details as Susie's Strawberry-Banana Kissing Potion to her completely believable thought processes.
An extraordinary, almost-successful debut that treats sensational material with literary grace, narrated from heaven by the victim of a serial killer and pedophile.
added by bell7 | editKirkus Reviews (Aug 1, 2002)
Don't start "Lovely Bones" unless you can finish it. The book begins with more horror than you could imagine, but closes with more beauty than you could hope for.
Sebold takes an enormous risk in her wonderfully strange début novel: her narrator, Susie Salmon, is dead—murdered at the age of fourteen by a disturbed neighbor—and speaks from the vantage of Heaven. Such is the author's skill that from the first page this premise seems utterly believable... If in the end she reaches too far, the book remains a stunning achievement.
added by Shortride | editThe New Yorker (Jul 15, 2002)

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alice Seboldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bresnahan, AlyssaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Always, Glen
First words
My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie.
Inside the snow globe on my father's desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf.
These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections—sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent—that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events my death brought were primarily that the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous lifeless body had been my life.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

This is the tale of family, memory, love, and living told by 14-year-old Susie Salmon, who is already in heaven. Through the voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and builds out of her family's grief a hopeful and joyful story.

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The Lovely Bones is a moving exploration of loss and mourning that ultimately puts its faith in the living made even more powerful by a cast of convincing characters.
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Average: (3.7)
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2.5 174
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Hachette Book Group

8 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0316168815, 0316666343, 0316166685, 1600240682, 0316001821, 0316044407, 0316044938, 160024842X


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