Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book Review : The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold 6*

Susie Salmon is raped and murdered by a paedophile living close to her home, Susie goes to heaven, a malleable place shaped by your own needs and wants. Susie's body is never found, apart from one gruesome discovery, and as the days without news stretch into weeks and months without hope or closure her parent's marriage fractures.

Sebold's novel is clever, and I enjoyed the way in which she has the main character, the murdered girl Susie, narrate the story from her position in heaven. The novel sets off as if it will be a relatively simple 'will they catch him ?' story as her father and sister obsess over her death and the possible identification of the murderer. Sebold though expands the story in other directions as the family and friends of Susie cope with both their own day to day lives and the aftermath of Susie's death.

The themes of rape, violence, death, loss and its aftermath run through Sebold's works. She was raped at college and her first book, Lucky, deals with the many issues arising from the rape, her most recent novel, The Almost Moon, also deals with death and loss as a woman kills her mentally ill mother.

The supporting characters in The Lovely Bones are in the most part well conceived and believable and Sebold's description of the manner in which Susie's parents cope, or fail to cope, with her death are both uncomfortable and realistic. In the end though, I found the book a little wanting, it ends nicely, a little too nicely perhaps, but without the punch or definition I was hoping for.

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