Read Any Good Books Lately?I've seen The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold on the table of reader's favorites at Barnes and Noble for years now. But I was never compelled to read it. Why? Because of the cover. Yes, I admit I was judging this book by its cover. It looked like a chick book to me. The Lovely Bones, with a charm bracelet and a little house on the cover. I thought it was about some suburban woman who wanted to be skinny because she has lovely bones or something. Well, I was wrong. It's nothing like that.
I finally decided to read it because Scott has been recommending it to me for about a year now. I was delighted to find it's a very thoughtful and moving story that centers around the murder of a 14 year-old girl namd Susie. It's told from Susie's point of view from her heaven. (Apparently everyone's is different.) She hovers above her family and friends and watches as they deal with her death and their grief and eventually come apart at the seams. Her sister, closest to her in age, still carrying the burden of sibling rivalry with a dead girl. Her father who becomes so obsessed with finding his daughter's killer he becomes known as something of a neighborhood loon. Her mother who becomes increasingly distant and cold to the rest of her family. The brother who was so young at the time of his sister's murder he was shielded from the reality of it and grows increasingly resentful with age for not being allowed to feel the loss. And finally, a once flighty and alcoholic grandmother who moves into the dead girl's room and attempts to pull the family back together.
The characters are very human and don't always behave as you would want them to or think they should. But therein lies the beauty of it. The painful humanity of the survivors who, like the dismembered bones of the murdered girl, separate, each in his own turmoil, but finally come together to form the body that was her life.
I found the device of using Susie to tell the story original and fascinating. I also applaud Sebold for not trying to turn the story into a suspense thriller with the characters in hot pursuit of a killer. It deals with the much stronger force to reckon with: their grief. That said, I found the pacing a bit plodding at times, but Sebold's beautiful prose is a pleasure to read.
So how about you? Read any good books lately?