24 Books in 2015 - The Lovely Bones (December 2015)

Status update: I'm still behind on my "24 books in 2015" goal. In order to meet it, I will need to read three more books this month. Since I have a vacation coming up soon, that may allow me to catch up and actually meet my goal for the year (which would be AWESOME).

My latest read was Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. I had heard good things about the movie but hadn't heard many people mention anything about the book. When I saw it at the Huntington Museum of Art's annual book sale, though, I had to buy it. I mean, I was interested in it, and it was only $1; how could I pass up that opportunity?

A brief plot synopsis for you: young Susie Salmon, in the prime of her 14-year old life, is raped and murdered. There's no mystery to who the killer is, by the way, since Susie is the narrator and has a front row seat to everything that happens in the story. Susie narrates from Heaven, and in The Lovely Bones, Heaven is personalized for each soul that lives there. Residents of Heaven can pretty much do as they like and see whatever they want to see back on Earth. The story focuses on Susie's inability to let go of her family & friends on Earth, while those same friends and family are struggling to let go of her.

The Lovely Bones spans nearly a decade in its storytelling, but an overarching theme is looking to the past. All of the characters cannot help but to frequently think back to when Susie was alive. When Susie is not telling the reader about the goings-on of her family and friends, she is recalling past events - times spent playing with her siblings, building ships in bottles with her dad, or kissing a boy in her class. Her family & friends recount similar occurrences, in addition to older memories from their (pre-Susie) past. In particular, both Susie's mother and her killer concentrate on the pre-Susie past and think of it with a deep sense of nostalgia. Eventually, the majority of these characters are able to look forward instead of back. They learn to live in the present instead of pining for the days when they lived differently. It's a long process in the book, very reminiscent of real life, of course, and I like that Sebold makes the grieving process realistic, even if the story is being told by a dead girl.

However, the moving on itself, the acceptance, happens very quickly in The Lovely Bones. Getting there is a process, but once the characters reach that point, the transition to acceptance happens fast. I had a similar problem with The Girl on the Train. The journey is long, but once we arrive at the destination it's like "we're here...ok, bye!" My problem is that I get overly attached to characters and hate to see their story ended with little fanfare, which is what unfortunately happens in The Lovely Bones. Sebold's writing is excellent enough to deeply connect the reader to her characters, but she falls short in providing us with what I would consider proper closure.

All in all, though, The Lovely Bones is a great book with important lessons about the past, present, and future. It may not wrap up character's stories the way I'd like it to, but I still enjoyed the book and look forward to watching the film version. What did you think about The Lovely Bones, Hipsters? Comment below!

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