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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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 violated 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.

This book is one of my most favourite ones ever, and I think it deserves to be a classic. It holds some power over me because I cry every single time I read it. I watched the movie a few years ago, and although the actors were well casted, it did not do much damage as the book. It covers realistic and hard topics and is not suited for everyone (needs a mature reader), but it is a beautiful book mostly focusing on Susie’s point of view (even after death), which I think is very artistic and filled with symbolism.

I recommend this book to those who like reading crime, philosophical, and coming of age novels.