I remember Alice Sebold’s, The Lovely Bones being quite the rage when I was in high school. It seemed like that blue tri-colored cover with those bold white words were in the hands of half my classmates. I never knew what the story was about then, but since that times (and with the release of the film) I had become more acquainted with the story. Still, this was my first time reading this book. Strange….I know.
The first two lines resonate. “My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” How could anyone resist reading the next line?!?! This books surprised me and I mean that in the sense that I wasn’t sure if I’d actually like it all that much. But, it was a fabulous read and an interesting story. I love, LOVE the POV from Susie. The ghost! Choosing the perspective of the dead is difficult, BUT it can also be the most freeing perspective. Being dead is something no one can define. It’s really an imagination free for all. Sebold followed the restrictions of the real world while also showing her readers the cornucopia of Heaven. Her Heaven, that is. Even in Heaven though, there was “structure.” However, the structure was specific to the soul. Ultimately, the soul wanted to get to “H” Heaven, but in the case of Susie ( and probably many, many other souls) Earth was more familiar. Susie also had the classic, “unfinished business” feeling attached to her.
Being pulled so abruptly from life has to feel like the worst case of jetlag EVER. And being chopped into pieces isn’t quite the same as hitting your head accidently on the corner of a table. The violence must be accounted for. Turbulence, if you will. But, again…this is my personal opinion. No one actually knows how it feels. Sebold took this universal quandary and created a realistic theory of what Heaven is like. Where do we go when he die? What happens to us? And do we get to visit Earth?
Susie’s death changed everything. The book , on the surface, is about her death and then her journey after. But dig deep and find that it’s really about experiencing tragedy and change, and finding your way back to some resemblance of happiness. And all of that takes time.
Time was the most apparent theme for me in the book. Time is precious. Time is short. Time is, “of the essence.” Time is necessary. Time is spent. Time is earned. Time is stagnant.
The idea is that time heals all, but really it’s what you do with your time. Everyone seems to be stuck, along with Susie, and unable to emotionally progress. Although her family and friends grow and have first time experiences that Susie never got to have, they always think of Susie. And Susie, always thinks of them. In the beginning of the novel, the “want,” or “need,” is to find Susie’s killer, but as the story unfolds, that same “want,” or “need,” is about piecing everything and everyone back together.
Life goes on. And for Susie, “H” Heaven was where she needed to allow her soul to rest.
It’s no one to me why this book became a best-seller. It’s an easy read and I say that with love. There’s a flow to it and the theme and content is intriguing. The “ghostly” POV is so great and I also respected the amount of discomfort Sebold included. Mr. Harvey was a bad, bad man and it was necessary that we got to explore him. There’s certainly despair when it comes to Mr. Harvey and his ability to “get away with murder.” And as much as I wanted him to get what he deserved (and he pretty much did), I wanted Susie to move away from Earth. Accepting death. Everyone in this novel has to learn to accept death. Another universal inevitability.