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Friday, 11 October 2013

Book Talk: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (not for children)

(First, so sorry I disappeared on you on Monday. I was my birthday :D and we got home late, and then there was the cake and before I knew it, it was ten o'clock and too late to blog. But I'll post a song this Monday instead, as well as the Writing Wednesday post that'll be due. I'm really excited about this one!)

Oh, my golly gosh. This book. I had heard many things from many different people, but nothing prepared me for the, excuse the cliché, emotional roller-coaster that this book put me through. It was tragic, but it was beautiful. I cannot count the number of times I had tears in my eyes or shivers down my back. It was an odd sort of sadness, though, not like the other sob stories I usually bawl my eyes out at, like Titanic and The Fault in Our Stars, in which you cry your heart out only at the end. No, The Lovely Bones was tear-worthy at many, many points, but you cry less each time. I liked how Alice Sebold did that. So without further rambles, here is my usual teaser/summary:

Walking back from school on the evening of 6 December, 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon is stopped by her neighbour, George Harvey. Lured by curiosity, she follows him into a den-like hole he has dug in the cornfield by their houses -- where he rapes and then murders her. And he seems to have gotten away with it. But Susie isn't done on Earth yet. She watches her family, friends, people she once spoke to, from her own personal heaven, as detective Len Fenerman grows increasingly frustrated at his inability to find the murderer, or even a body. If only Susie could find a way to prove to her loved ones that she's still here, that it wasn't their fault, that she's safe now, if longing for things she might have done. That her murderer lives right next door...

This book touches something deep and personal inside us all. It proves how danger sometimes lives right on out doorstep, and while that may not be a particularly comforting thought, the author still managed to execute what some people may call a "horrible" story in an absolutely beautiful, poetic way. Susie narrating from her heaven gives the effect of a combined first person and omniscient narrator, something that prior to reading this book I would have considered impossible. "Like a beautiful gasoline rainbow" (my favourite quotation, that made me cry more than all other parts bar one), this book manages to take something ugly and make it a story so captivating it kept you enthralled without the use of what I refer to as the literary "underhand tactics", e.g. extraneous cliffhangers. The character my heart bled for the most had to be Susie's poor father, Jack; followed by Lindsey and Buckley, her siblings; and then Ray Singh, Susie's crush, who is at one point a suspect. I have to confess that I did not like Susie's mother at all. I know her daughter died, and I made allowances, but there is some behaviour that is just inexcusable. I won't mention what that behaviour was. You'll have to read it and find out ;)

Star Rating: 5/5

I recommend this to almost everyone -- don't let your kids under twelve at the very minimum read it, please. I would say fourteen and up, but if you do allow younger children to read it, well, don't say I didn't warn you.  It's a fantastic novel, but there is the rape, which isn't described in detail but I still don't think it's the best thing for children to be reading. There are also one or two sex scenes, which are also not gone into in detail. Even though I believe Sebold handled the tricky subject as well as she could, the fact remains that it's there, and some things are best left till older. If you want a sad but beautiful book that's child-friendly, I recommend Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls, which you can read my post on here.

Have a wonderful evening, everyone! I start "work" tomorrow -- unpaid volunteering, but still my first job. Excited! This is the charity shop that gets all my old books. I wonder how many I'll recognise on the shelves :)