Author : Alice Sebold

Release Date : Sept. 20, 2004

When we see a news story of a murder on T.V., we see the grief stricken family, the outraged community, the promises of a good investigation, etc. What we don’t see is how the family does, day in and day out through the years, after the funeral, the condolences, and way after the media’s spotlight has dimmed. We don’t see how the family struggles to survive emotionally. We forget the incident after a time, but to each member, the tragedy goes on and on until they can come to terms with it, as individuals and as a family unit.

Alice Sebold writes an unusual book around this truth, the story being told by a fourteen year old girl in heaven, after being raped and murdered by a serial killer. From her place in heaven, she follows the lives of her family which collapses on itself through the years, while trying to come to terms with her sudden death. She watches how her dad, mom, sister and brother cope, in their individual way, with their grief, their tragic loss, and the injustice of it all. She also narrates how her death affects her friends and the neighborhood community as a whole.

This book is not about a crime story. The Lovely Bones is a book that deals with human nature. The grief, the anger and the efforts to fight these in different ways are so palpable and touching, and true perhaps for some families who have experienced a tragedy like this one.

Yet the novel is not a complete lament as one sees how the family knits itself back together, perhaps emerging different, as a unit that has grown stronger and healed through forgiveness and acceptance. So Sebold gives this message of hope.

I have to say that despite the theme of death and grief, the book’s atmosphere isn’t so gloomy or bleak. The story is told with a light hand and an elegance that shows how talented the author is. I’m impressed by how she manages to make this novel not end up like a chunk of sadness and hurt.

I thank Alice Sebold for successfully directing our attention and thereby our sensitivities to people who have had to face sudden tragedy. The Lovely Bones certainly deserves its bestseller status.

My Mark : Outstanding

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