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10 April 2014

The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold
Little, Brown
Publication Date

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

From the blurp:
This is Susie Salmon, speaking from heaven - which looks a lot like her school playground, with a good kind of swing sets, counsellors to help newcomers adjust, and friends to room with. Everything Susie wants appears as soon as she thinks of it - except the one thing she wants most: to be bak with the people she loved on earth.
Watching from her place in 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.

I absolutely adored the book and it is in the list of my personal 'All Time Favourites'. The opening line sets the scene straight away. Susie was murdered, and now she tells her story. Up until this point, the idea of a young murder victim watching her family from heaven was unique for me in a story, and it is brilliantly executed here. Susie tells her story, starting off from the time she was murdered and her desperation to be unable to make her family see who her murderer is and bring him to justice. Heaven is described as, indeed, Susie sees it. Whatever played a part in Susie's life is in her heaven, and as she becomes more and more aware of things in 'her' heaven, she also moves around and, for example, finds one of her dogs which had died. 

Susie watches her family trying to cope with her death and essentially falling to pieces over it. She learns that her attacker has murdered other women and finds them and speaks to them in heaven. Both Susie's sister and her father have their suspicious about a local man called Harvey - the murderer, but Suzie is powerless to intervene. 

What I like so much about the story is the idea of 'my now personal heaven'. Susie moves around in places which resemble places she has seen, people, animals etc. and she learns to 'move around' in different parts of her heaven as her mind wanders. There is not really a religious connection here, but as explained by Sebold, is more about everyone's own interpretation of faith and afterlife. 

There are parts of the book I have to say I didn't get on with, and this is the connection of Susie with Ray Singh, a boy she went to school with and who was the first boy to kiss her. Later in the story, she develops a connection to him and kind of transcends to him via another girls body. I felt this didn't fit the story, but maybe I just didn't 'get' that part? I'm also not too keen on the title. Despite this, the story still gets 5 stars from me as I absolutely 'loved' the book.

About the author (from Amazon)

Alice Sebold is the bestselling author of The Lovely Bones (now a major motion picture) and Lucky, both of which were #1 New York Times bestsellers. Her most recent novel is The Almost Moon. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Sebold grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended Syracuse University, as well as the University of Houston and the University of California, Irvine. She now lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.