“Because horror on Earth is real and it is every day. It is like a flower or like the sun; it cannot be contained.”
This supernatural thriller book is a must-read. Alice Sebold has a way with her words, weaving memories of the past with the progression of a family’s life in a bittersweet and poignant manner.
Susie Salmon is murdered by a serial killer Harvey, and the entire book is a narration of her watching her family and friends from above, a place that at first seems to be heaven, but then we’re told that it is the threshold where souls with unfulfilled wishes wander. Over a span of eight years she watches her parents, sister, brother, friends, crush and most importantly- her murderer, till all her curiosities and hopes are satiated and she moves on.
As a story, there a few plot holes and character inconsistencies that I found difficult to wrap my head around. I couldn’t understand how Jack Salmon, Susie’s father, despite undoubtedly knowing the man who murdered his daughter was okay to sit and wait for evidence to turn up. Then there’s the mother Abigail, who is obviously unhappy indulges in adultery and then abandons her family to return later. What was it that was missing in her life? In what way was her marriage and her role as a mother not enough? Even when she returns, I found her acceptance back into the family too smooth and unrealistic. Betrayal and abandonment is rarely forgiven easily, if at all. I’m not saying I judge her for her decision, I just wanted more meat on the logic of her decisions. Just staring into space being lost and unhappy doesn’t seem to warrant abandoning two children and a husband.
Setting these issues aside, the ‘The Lovely Bones’ is littered with an incredible amount of wonderful imagery of emotions, experiences and wisdom attained. Sebold also has this knack of introducing horror into the writing with such casual finesse that you’ll find yourself disbelieving that the sentence is actually there and go back to read it.
“By the time the Gilbert’s dog found my elbow three days later and brought it home with a telling corn husk attached to it, Mr.Harvey had closed it up.”
The melancholic narrative style really gripped me and made me care about Susie and the people she left behind. I wanted what she wanted for them, and I think that is an incredible achievement for a writer, to get you to care so passionately. Especially for her Father and her little sister. That gut-wrenching element of loss of a child, where a parent is torn between mourning a dead child and loving the ones who are still alive is captured so wonderfully as well. All in all, I would definitely recommend ‘The Lovely Bones’, a story about family, death and love.