Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Lovely Bones, when it first came out seven years ago, was raved about, but I fail to see what was so special about the novel. Maybe it's just my reading preferences and desire for a fluid plot sequence that makes it impossible for me to enjoy stream of consciousness, but I struggled to understand why people saw this book as so great.

The novel is basically about Susie Salmon, a fourteen year old girl that was raped and murdered. Her body was never recovered and so she spends her time in heaven watching her family and friends dealing with her death. Her father becomes obsessed with a man named Paul Harvey who he believes killed Susie (he did but there's no evidence until the point that Harvey runs away). Susie watches her murder and discovers the gruesome truth that she's not his only victim. In the meantime, her mother, unable to handle things, has a brief affair with the detective investigating the case and eventually leaves her family. Susie grows up through her sister Lindsey and watches after brother Buckley as he tries to fill in the gaps left by Susie's death. She also follows around Ruth who feels like she can "talk" to the dead and Ray who was Susie's first kiss/love. The novel shows snapshots of all of these people as they grow and deal with her death.

To me the novel did not have an actual plot flow with a rising action and culminating conflict and then resolution. Sure there's the conflict of Susie's death and the resolution of them finally accepting it, but if that's the case, the whole novel was the falling action and it dragged. It could have used a little more conflict and maybe a bit more of a roller coaster ride, but it didn't. I think that I just failed to make a connection with the characters or their struggles, and, overall, I found myself not really caring about the situations Susie showed me.

I don't know how to explain it, but I didn't enjoy this novel. If you don't mind snapshots of character's life mingled with flashbacks, try this novel. I don't particularly like this style of writing and could not get into the novel. I couldn't even get into the emotional struggle of losing a loved one that the characters were dealing with. All of that accumulated into a disappointing experience with this novel that so many people saw as wonderful. Maybe you'll see things different and, if so, please tell me why you like it.

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