The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (book, audio, and movie – a love hate relationship)

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.

The Book

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.

The Audio

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.

Suzie and her dad, Jack, building ships in a bottle together

The Movie

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.

Jack feels Suzie is out there, somewhere

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

45 thoughts on “The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (book, audio, and movie – a love hate relationship)

  1. I read the book shortly after it came out, but haven’t yet seen the movie. I was almost afraid that seeing it would spoil what I loved about the book.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts; now I can watch the movie!

    1. I guess I was so turned off by the audio Laurel that I was in no hurry to see the movie. Even when Justin’s friend dropped it off here I still left it on the counter for a few days.

      I am however glad I did see it Laurel and hope you enjoy it too. 😀

  2. read the book when it first came out…hated the way heaven was portrayed but i will never forget the scene where she died
    the movie…hmmm…didn’t think stan tucci was creepy enough…..nobody’s emotions ran true for me but my girls loved it so it’s probably me

    1. I cant remember a lot of details on the book Diana but seems like I remember wondering about the Heaven portrayal too. I did like it in the movie though – and more for the imagery than anything. 😀

  3. I’m glad you found your review journal. 🙂 I have that book on my TBR shelf. My good friend gave me her copy and told me I had to read it. I have put off reading it as I normally like to read something that is more uplifting or lighter. I think I’m afraid it will be to depressing. Who knows, I may move it up in my list.

    1. Jill – got to be honest here – it is not the most uplifting book on the shelf 🙂

      I can’t call this one – I think it takes a certain frame of mind to read.

  4. I have to say that you are the first person to actually convince me to read this book and watch the movie. Thanks for the recommendation. Sorry the audio didn’t work out for you.

    1. I would love to know your take on it Trisha. I am stopping by your blog today to make a list of the audios that were recommended when you had the audio week. there were some good suggestions there and I want to make an audio wish list. Do you know of anyone who does an audio swap? I was thinking of starting one but do not want to do whats already being done. I think I will email you… 🙂

  5. I really liked the book and the movie. I reviewed both earlier this year on my blog. The book is really well written and the movie was done beautifully, I think. It is a very sad story…one that sticks with you. Great reviews!

    P.S. I HATE when audio books are monotone or the reader’s voice is especially grating.

    1. I love books/movies that take a different look to things and that is what is done here Michelle.

      Yeah the audio about did me in. I think at one time I started at my CD player and said, “Seriously?” 😀

  6. I haven’t experienced the audio, but I did enjoy the book and the movie and I almost think the movie was better than the book. I loved Susan Sarandon in it.

  7. I love the idea of a chat area! I have read the book – twice – and am anxiously waiting to see the movie. I will certainly click on the spoiler button and follow along with others’ comments.

  8. I’ve debated about watching this one because I loved the book so much…I trust your opinion so I’m going to request this from the library! 😀

  9. I read the book ages ago and it really affected me. I was very hesitant to watch the movie, but you’ve encouraged me to give it a go!!

    And FYI, my Columbine review will be up tomorrow!

    1. Jenners I hesitated on the movie too and I am so glad I seen it. I am watching it again tonight before I return it.

      YAY – I cant wait to read your Columbine review!

  10. o, dear…you know how i really, really dislike narrators who can’t! what am i to do? use it as a sleeping drug? skip it all together? just get the book? can i get thru the audio knowing ahead of time that the story is worth the time?

    ps. have you read circle of souls…really, really good read! i not only posted my review but went back and asked the author questions that he willingly answered! he is a first time writer! EXCELLENT read!

  11. I have to admit that I wasn’t as enamoured with this book as a lot of people are. I actually thought it was little bit slow and boring. I heard such bad reviews about the movie, I didn’t want to book to drop even further in my mind because of the movie

  12. I’ve been a little hesitant to read this book and watch this movie. Oh, there’s nothing worse than a badly read audiobook! It can ruin a wonderful book or it can make an okay book wonderful.

    1. Ladytink – it really surprised me because it is read by the author. I would think if anyone could read their story with passion it would be the author. 🙂

  13. Really like how you compared the book, audio, and movie. I only read the book and remember enjoying it. Very unique and moving, but not for everyone.

    1. You are right Terri – not for everyone. I am always interested in books that are written from different perspectives and the fact that she was telling the story after she was dead intrigued me.

  14. I have the book and the audio both on my TBR pile. Knowing what it is about, I keep waiting until “I am in the mood.” When at the library, I heard mixed comments about the book. Many liked it and some felt it was too depressing a topic to write about. Hopefully, soon I will find out what I think of it.

    1. Pat honestly, my review when I read the book all those years ago was vague. Guess I didn’t think I would need to look back on it someday – LOL. So I really do not recall how much I liked the book.

  15. All these years, and I never did get to The Lovely Bones. I heard mixed reviews when it first came out, but it’s held its popularity. I think I might try the movie.

    Thanks for the multiple reviews!!


    1. Thanks Sue I wasnt planning on reviewing any of this but after I seen the movie and just thought some parts were so amazing – I decided to share my thoughts on all three 😀

  16. I really enjoyed the book and keep meaning to read it again. I’ve been really unsure about the movie, but think I will have to give it a go now. Thanks for the reviews!

    1. Kylie there are a lot of mixed thoughts on the movie so would love to hear your opinion. I watched it and thought it was done well…. I watched it a second time with my son to see if it was just me but he liked it too. 🙂

  17. Hmmm . . . I went to add your link to my review (hope you don’t mind, but if you do let me know and I will remove it) and I re-read my review in the process. I had the exact same question as you on your spoiler page!!! Ha!! Thought that was pretty interesting! that we were on the same page on that one!

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