First paragraph: My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. In newspaper photos of missing girls from the seventies, most looked like me: white girls with mousy brown hair. This was before kids of all races and genders started appearing on milk cartons or in the daily mail. It was still back when people believed things like that didn’t happen.
Taken from my book journal – July 2004: This book was nominated for our book club read for August but did not win the vote. Many of the book club members thought it was hitting too close to home as a local 21-year-old Brainerd Minnesota woman’s remains had just been found in May. She had been missing since October 2002.
I went on to read this book on my own and found it to truly be a unique read, the story being told by 14-year-old Suzie Salmon who had been murdered. Suzie is seeing everything happening on earth while she is a place that is the step before Heaven. Before she can move on she needs to let go of earthly things and while she watches her family struggle on earth and her murderer go around unsuspected – she finds she can not let go until things are resolved.
A highly emotional book, I felt the families pain as Suzie’s father refused to give up, her mother could not bear to hold on, and the pain of all things surrounding Suzie rips them apart. I read most of this book with a lump in my throat and a feeling of uneasiness and anxiety for Suzie. I was left knowing I had just experienced something unique in this style of writing, a brilliant step I feel made by author Alice Sebold. While the ending did not satisfy me, the book as a whole was a “wow”.
**Update: Since I wrote this review in 2004, I am not sure what exactly about the ending left me unsatisfied as I did not elaborate.
Fall 2009: I receive the audio version of The Lovely Bones and it is read by Alice Sebold herself. I am so excited to get into these audio that I put the first cd in right away while I am putting around my house. My cd number two I quit listening. The narration is so monotone I can’t stand it. The voices from the dad, to the mom, to Suzie herself do not change. I gave up on the audio, hoping I did not give up too soon.
Current date: I am offered a chance to watch the movie that just recently came out on DVD. I am hesitant as my most recent time spent with this was the audio and I still have this unfortunate memory of that experience. Next thing I know, the DVD is on my kitchen counter, sent home to me by a friend of my sons who thinks I need to give it a try. On Saturday evening after an attempt with a poor video rental choice that Al and I agreed needed to be shut off 20 minutes in because we had no idea what was going on – I put in The Lovely Bones.
Is it possible for those first feelings I had when I read the book come up again? I think so. With a lump in my throat I watched as this story unfolded, beautifully heartbreaking, beyond what I would have ever thought possible. The film makers did an incredible job on capturing this story. The imagery of Suzie’s Heaven was breath-taking and the scene of the large ships in the bottle caused my heart to break just a little.
I was truly impressed with the movie all the way through. Very tastefully done. The ending was wonderful too and my heart wept again. I would highly recommend this movie.
If you want to talk more deeply about the book, the audio, or the movie, please enter below by clicking on the spoiler button. This will take you to an area where we can chat more openly about this without spoiling anything for those who have not yet experienced The Lovely Bones.
I own the book and the audio, borrowed the movie