By Alice Sebold
Susie Salmon is murdered when she is fourteen years old. In The Lovely Bones, Susie tells us her story and the stories of her friends, family and even her murderer as she looks down on them all from Heaven. The end result is a devastating depiction of pain and suffering. Consequently, this is not an easy book to read. The murder itself is appalling, and the aftermaths are painful to witness.
Remember that article in the April 20, 2009 issue of Newsweek? It was called,” Why Is It a Sin to Read for Fun?” It put forward the idea that reading for fun is fine, as long as it leads a reader to more edifying texts: “…at some point reading should stop being a pleasurable diversion, and start being work.” How else are you going to grow?I sort of agree with that (although nothing is going to stop me from reading for fun). I did force myself to finish the book after all, even though I wasn’t enjoying it. But I’m still trying to decide if this book was edifying. Regardless, I don’t think the writing was particularly great.
Examples, please.“Her heart, like an ingredient in a recipe, was reduced,” or “She asked for coffee and toast in a restaurant and buttered it with her tears,” or “Her pupils dilated, pulsing in and out like small, ferocious olives.”
The narrator was a fourteen-year old. How great a writer were you at that age?Um…let’s move on, shall we? I have some problems with Susie’s Heaven. I won’t spoil the book for anyone by divulging details, but Susie’s Heaven and Susie’s attitudes toward it seemed contrived and often artificial (like a poorly conceived gimmick designed to draw in readers).
For one thing, Susie was bored in Heaven. What kind of Heaven is that? Also, Susie seemed to have very little interest in her afterlife. For example, God or a higher being is never in evidence, but not once does Susie (or anyone else) ask about His/Her/Its existence. I’m not saying the book had to dwell on the big philosophical questions. A few brief sentences (“You’ll find out when you’re ready,” or “We don’t know!”) would have sufficed. Ignoring The Big Questions made Heaven feel unauthentic.
First, everyone has a different idea of Heaven. Second, not everyone is as full of (annoying) questions as you are. Third, again, Susie is only fourteen.Fair enough, although personally, I think most people are going to be asking about God when they die, even if they are young. Look, I realize that a lot of people love this book. I don’t have any good reasons for disliking it; it’s just not my cup of cocoa. And there you have it. 2/5 stars