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The Lovely Bones

By Alice Sebold

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Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 June 2003
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer."This is Susie Salmon. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet... The Lovely Bones is a luminous and astonishing novel about life and death, forgiveness and vengeance, memory and forgetting - but, above all, about finding light in the darkest of places.Celebrating 40 years of outstanding international writing, this is one of the essential Picador novels reissued in a beautiful new series style.

Promotional Information

The critically acclaimed international bestseller - 'Moving and compelling ... It will put an imperceptible but stealthily insistent hold on you.' Maggie O'Farrell, Sunday Telegrap

About the Author

Alice Sebold lives in California with the writer Glen David Gold. The Lovely Bones is her first novel. Her memoir, Lucky, will be published by Picador in 2003.


Sebold, whose previous book, Lucky, told of her own rape and the subsequent trial of her attacker, here offers a powerful first novel, narrated by Susie Salmon, in heaven. Brutally raped and murdered by a deceptively mild-mannered neighbor, Susie begins with a compelling description of her death. During the next ten years, she watches over her family and friends as they struggle to cope with her murder. She observes their disintegrating lives with compassion and occasionally attempts, sometimes successfully, to communicate her love to them. Although the lives of all who knew her well are shaped by her tragic death, eventually her family and friends survive their pain and grief. In Sebold's heaven, Susie continues to grow emotionally. She learns that human existence is "the helplessness of being alive, the dark bright pity of being human feeling as you went, groping in corners and opening your arms to light all of it part of navigating the unknown." Sebold's compelling and sometimes poetic prose style and unsparing vision transform Susie's tragedy into an ultimately rewarding novel. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/02.] Cheryl L. Conway, Univ. of Arkansas Lib., Fayetteville Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

'My name was Salmon, like the fish, first name, Susie I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer.'

Adult/High School-"I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973," says Susie Salmon in this intriguing novel. Teens will immediately be drawn into this account of a girl who was raped and killed, and tells her story from "heaven." She realizes gradually that she is in an interim heaven until she can let go of her earthly concerns. The place is like school with Seventeen for a textbook and no teachers. On Earth, her mother needs to leave the family for a time, her sister seems to have Susie constantly in her thoughts, her young brother grows into a pensive preteen, and her grief-stricken father spends much of his time seeking out the murderer, even after it seems that the police have given up. The narrator observes the disparate ways her family and friends cope, and finally sees that they are resolving their grief as "the lovely bones" of their lives knit themselves around the empty space that was her life. While the subject matter is grim, the telling is light and frequently humorous-Susie remains 14 even though 8 years pass in the other characters' lives. This novel will encourage discussion. There is a slight feeling of magical realism, but there is grounding in real adolescence.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Sebold's first novel after her memoir, Lucky is a small but far from minor miracle. Sebold has taken a grim, media-exploited subject and fashioned from it a story that is both tragic and full of light and grace. The novel begins swiftly. In the second sentence, Sebold's narrator, Susie Salmon, announces, "I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." Susie is taking a shortcut through a cornfield when a neighbor lures her to his hideaway. The description of the crime is chilling, but never vulgar, and Sebold maintains this delicate balance between homely and horrid as she depicts the progress of grief for Susie's family and friends. She captures the odd alliances forged and the relationships ruined: the shattered father who buries his sadness trying to gather evidence, the mother who escapes "her ruined heart, in merciful adultery." At the same time, Sebold brings to life an entire suburban community, from the mortician's son to the handsome biker dropout who quietly helps investigate Susie's murder. Much as this novel is about "the lovely bones" growing around Susie's absence, it is also full of suspense and written in lithe, resilient prose that by itself delights. Sebold's most dazzling stroke, among many bold ones, is to narrate the story from Susie's heaven (a place where wishing is having), providing the warmth of a first-person narration and the freedom of an omniscient one. It might be this that gives Sebold's novel its special flavor, for in Susie's every observation and memory of the smell of skunk or the touch of spider webs is the reminder that life is sweet and funny and surprising,. Agent, Henry Dunow. (July 3) Forecast: Sebold's memoir, Lucky, was the account of her rape in 1981, at Syracuse University. It is, of course, impossible to read The Lovely Bones without considering the memoir, but the novel moves Sebold effortlessly into literary territory. A long list of writers including Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen blurb The Lovely Bones, and booksellers should expect the novel to move quickly; the early buzz has been considerable. Foreign rights have been sold in England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain and Sweden, with film rights to Film Four. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

EAN: 9780330485388
ISBN: 0330485385
Publisher: Picador
Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 1.9 centimetres (0.28 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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27 review(s)
All Reviews
heidi on
Reading this story, being a 14 year old became a lot scarier for me,
alhough it's a great story on how one death can change a family so dramatically!
But in another sence is quite haunting to the fact of what happend to her.
It made me really think about after life to the point where i feel self-conscience
that my ancestors are watching me!

Can't wait to see the movie coming out in 2009!
ashley on
This haunting story gets under your skin and stays with your soul. The thought of being in the mind of a murdered little girl is

really sad and emotional, but Sebold manages to make the reader feel that there must be more on the other side, that we indeed have angels watching over us and will one day be there too. The writing and story are unique and special. A good, moving book.
bethany on
This story tells of the devasting impact the tragic loss of life can have on an entire family. I found it emotionally crippling at times and at other times it made me smile through my tears as the protagonist reflected on the events from heaven.

It is definitely worth reading and most thought provoking although i did find the ending did the story little justice.
Customer on
As a teacher of English, I would strongly recommend this for a senior class. I taught this book for the first time this year, despite some concerns from other teachers about its confronting storyline. The students loved it and it raised many wonderful discussions. A number of students claimed it was the first book that they had read. A great read
Abby on
This book has haunted me for years. I feel in love with the possibilities within this story as a young girl watches her family from afar. A fantastic read.
Joanne on
A very poignant tale of life,death,loss and the future. A difficult read if you have children - some of the writing is quite graphic, and tears fall before you can stop them. Nicely written, simplistic, as a narrative of a young girl would be.
Perhaps some would find it to be healing if they have lost someone under tragic circumstances.
Melissa on
I brought this book not really knowing much about it except that Peter Jackson is turing it into a movie. I brought this book last friday and by saturday night i had finished it. It was a fantastic read which i just couldn't put down, it really drew me in. This is the best book i have read in a long time.
Harriet on
this is a book as frustrating as it is brilliant. young susie salmon is brutually raped and murdered by her next door neigh bour, a mentally ill man, and watches her family from heaven as they try to deal with her disappearance and the quest to find her murderer. it is stunning
jodi on
truly an amazing book - this book got my mind ticking away and brings death back to home.
writting just Beautiful, something i intend on reading again and again
Customer on
I loved this book. I thought it would be quite depressing, given the storyline but it was definately worth reading - amazing and beautifully written. I have given it as a gift to friends a couple of times and they've also really enjoyed it.

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