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The Lovely Bones
Cover of The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones
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When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn't happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.
When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn't happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.
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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    6.0
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Alice Sebold is the author of Lucky, a memoir. She lives in California. This is her first novel.
Reviews-
  • DOGO Books maria11 - this book was very sad though my very favorite.I loved the movie so much and now this is one of my favorite books I've read in my life.I like to thank Alice Sebold for making this wonderful book.
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 17, 2002
    HSebold'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.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 3, 2007
    Reading her breakout novel, Sebold's even, unemotional voice is a good match for both the drab setting of a Midwest town enduring the 1970s and for her matter-of-fact writing, which manages to seem grounded even as the protagonist narrates from heaven after her brutal murder. Sebold doesn't bother with voicing characters differently; the murdered girl, Susie Salmon, is the listener's window into the world she was forced to leave behind, and Sebold uses a flat, deliberate voice that manages to sound both weary and wistful. Snatches of melancholy chamber music close each track and provide more explicit emotion. What Sebold's voice lacks in stylistic flourish she makes up for with perfect pacing. In an introductory segment, Sebold recounts the novel's genesis and mentions that part of her working process involves reading everything back to herself, which explains her expert rhythm. On the final disc, Sebold reads the first chapter of her 2007 novel, The Almost Moon. While Sebold's fans will be eager for the chance to hear her read, the uninitiated may wish for a bit more passion in her presentation. A Back Bay Books paperback (Reviews, June 17, 2002).

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2002
    The heroine of Sebold's first novel (after the memoir Lucky) is already dead, but that doesn't keep her from talking. Teenager Susie Salmon looks down benevolently from Heaven as her family heals and her murderer is run to ground.

    Copyright 2002 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal

    October 1, 2002
    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 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Aimee Bender author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and An Invisible Sign of My Own The Lovely Bones is the kind of novel that, once you're done, you may go visit while wandering through a bookstore and touch on the binding, just to remember the emotions you felt while reading it. Intensely wise and gorgeously written, The Lovely Bones is a heart-breaking page-turner. I envy the reader who is about to jump into the world of Susie Salmon and her incredible family.
  • Amy Bloom author of A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You and Love Invents Us Set in a heaven as real and possible as the earth is mysterious and shifting, The Lovely Bones, explores, with clear-eyed affection and wit, the romance of family life, the shy, funny turbulence of adolescence and the painful tracks love and loss make through our world.
  • Margot Livesey, author of Eva Moves the Furniture and The Missing World What a wonderful writer Alice Sebold is. Out of darkness she makes light, out of despair and violence, beauty, out of deep loss a peculiar, hard-won gain. All her characters, for good or ill, travel to surprising places and so do we, her extremely fortunate readers.
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    Little, Brown and Company
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