What is the price to pay of being trapped in a perfect world? The toll may be the loss of a former life or maybe its complete isolation where you can only watch life bustling outside of your bubble. In The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, a young teen named Susie Salmon is murdered and only she really knows who killed her, yet there is not much she can do trapped in her heaven. Susie can only watch as her family struggles with her death and note her killer’s skillful achievement as he gets away with the crime.
Life may go on without Susie, but she is never forgotten. Susie even connects with a girl she barely knows yet feels closer than ever to her through heaven. While Susie’s dad becomes more determined to find her murderer the longer Susie is gone. What if her family does find out who killed Susie? What if no one believes them because her dad has “cried wolf” too many times? Susie longs to help although she can only look down and watch as Sebold writes “I could still see Earth as I walked the fields of heaven. The night would come and people would leave for other heavens. Heavens where a girl like me doesn’t fit in. Were they horrific these other heavens? Worse than feeling so solitary among one’s liking, growing peers?” (119). Susie feels alone and is isolated just like many other characters, yet she just does not notice the reoccurring theme.
My experience of reading this book was having a sense of intriguing wonder and curiosity because of how versatile and different the settings are and because of the distinct point of view from a girl who has died and is watching down from her heaven. As Sebold says “After a few days in heaven, we have been given our simplest dreams” (17). Sebold’s style of writing is vivid and realistic as she writes with very descriptive words to describe every situation and setting in the book. She also writes with a sense of wonder and imagination as well to contrast against the slightly harsh realities. For example, Sebold writes “But I felt them before I saw them, small sparks along my arms. Then there they were, fireflies lighting up and expanding in howls and swirls as they abandoned human flesh” (155). She uses this powerful imagery to describe her watching souls leave their body. This also connects with the central theme of loss and death. Every character in the book has lost someone or something. Susie loses her life. The Salmon family lost their oldest daughter and spunky older sister. Even Susie’s murderer lost someone, his mom, “She had run without stopping…She’s gone now and she won’t be coming back” (97). I connected with the central theme of loss and death as I have lost a loved one as well. One who might like this book is someone who has a vivid imagination and can stomach the weird and truth of reality. For example Sebold says “The end came anyway. When I entered heaven, we were all in our version of heaven (17)” This is Sebold style as she writes about just dying and then transferring into a weird explanation of heaven to soften the boldness. The whole book is just a softened version of real life evil.
Sebold, Alice. The Lovely Bones: A Novel. Boston: Little, Brown, 2002. Print.
Alternate Cover Design:
"Inside the snow globe on my father's desk, there was a penguin. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, 'Dont worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He's trapped in a perfect world." Susie is trapped in a perfect world, her heaven, only to watch outside her perfect bubble that life is going on without her. She dead in this perfect world. Its not perfect after all.