Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones is a drama based on the author’s brutal rape that occurred when she was in college. This novel follows her first book, Lucky, a memoir on her actual rape. A police officer dubbed her “lucky” to be alive since she had been the victim of the rape that had taken the life of another girl before her.
Sebold’s story focuses on Susie Salmon, a girl who was raped and murdered by one of her neighbors in the small town where she lived. She watches over her family from her heaven, seeing her brother and sister grow up as her mother and father grow apart. Susie tries to contact her family, especially her dad, to tell him who murdered her and even after her death, the bond between daughter and father strengthens. Sebold challenges the reader to think about heaven in a non-religious respect, and focuses on the aspects of family life in the 1970’s and 80’s.
With her blunt narration, Susie shocks the reader by stating the facts, almost emotionless, rather than using euphemisms while discussing her rape. The narrator’s matter-of-fact tone leaves the reader with pure information to help them figure out how they feel about the violent and disturbing events in the novel.
The Lovely Bones not only covers the end of Susie’s life, but the beginning of her little sister, Lindsey’s. Susie grows up through her little sister who, in the duration of the novel, faces the ups and downs of becoming a teenager and a young adult. Any teenage girl can admire Lindsey for the bravery and passion she shows towards the people she loves.
The Lovely Bones is in no way a happy book; it is a morbid coming-of-age story centered on pain, insanity, violence, and loss. However, there is love and kindness in Sebold’s words, somehow making the reader feel reassured while experiencing the Salmon family’s tragedy second-hand.