My mixed feelings about The Lovely Bones

Once again, I really struggled to think about which book I was going to talk to you. I’ve read “The Lovely Bones” a few weeks ago. I liked it but I didn’t love it, that’s why I hesitated talking about it. I still don’t know if I enjoyed reading it. But I didn’t have much choice, to be honest with you, and I think it’s still worth to write a review, so let’s go!

“The Lovely Bones” is a novel wrote by Alice Sebold in 2002. A film adaptation directed by Percy Jackson was released in 2009. I’ve watched the movie when it was released and I had a good memory of it, so when I ran into Sebold’s book, I couldn’t wait to read it. The story is written from Susie’s point of view, a 14-year-old teenager, who has hopes, and dreams, and a quiet life in a Pennsylvania suburb. One night, when she returns from school, she’s being raped and murdered by her neighbour, George Harvey. After that terrible event, she watches from her personal Heaven as her family and friends struggle to move on with their lives while she has to admit she has to deal with her own death as well.


Why do I have mixed feelings about this book?

As Barney, I don’t know if I really liked my reading. I found it difficult to dive into the book’s universe at the beginning. Narration is special, not in a bad or a good way, just strange. There are long descriptions of Susie’s Heaven, or her vision of life and all these digressions slows the story. The rhythm itself is quite erratic. It’s sometimes difficult to understand where you are in the timeline, as Susie talks sometimes about things that happened in the past, when she was still alive. Or some other time you have a leap of several years in the future and you find her siblings suddenly older. It’s hard to keep up, but in the meantime I don’t think this is a complete drawback, because you’re following Susie’s thoughts after her death, so it’s normal if they’re a bit uneven.

I also have to say I didn’t like the end of the book. I understand why the author wrote it that way, but for a reader, it’s frustrating and it left me wanting more. The book is all about life and its inexorability, so it finishes as abruptly as life can do, but it can be irritating. When I finished it and put it down, I had a moment of “All that for this”. Maybe you won’t feel that way if you’re prepared to it, I don’t know, but yeah, I was really frustrated, for some reasons I can’t really detail here because I don’t want to spoil you or anything. Yet, I’d be pleased to talk about it with you in the comment section, so don’t hesitate to tell me what you think about it!


Why did I read it anyway?

Because despite everything I said above, I mostly enjoyed my reading anyway. If I can’t stop watching series even if I hate it – you can ask Elissa – it’s definitely not the same with books. If I hate it, I won’t push and I’ll put it down. But even if I had mixed feelings with “The Lovely Bones”, I went through with it because there were really interesting sides to the story.

First of all, I loved the original idea of the plot. You know the victim, you know the killer and you know how it happened. And of course, you want to scream to the police when they are this close to the truth without touching it. It’s different from all the thriller stories I’ve ever read. The idea of choosing the victim’s point of view even after her death is also quite original, and it gives the reader an omniscience you rarely have in this kind of books.

It also allows the author to teach us an interesting lesson: life passes in a finger snap. Susie disappears as easily as a breath of wind. And as she watches life goes on under her, on Earth, you realize the lives of her loved ones are almost as brief as hers. It’s heart-breaking to see how her family goes through grief. They all have a personal way to try. Her mother refuses to talk about her. Her father keeps thinking about her murderer obsessively. Her sister shuts herself completely. Her brother is too young to know and is blissfully ignorant, until the day he understands and is openly hurt. They all have their own way to cope with it. Her death also brought her friends Ray and Ruth closer, and this friendship is one of the few good things that came from her disappearance. It’s really all about people move on after someone’s death, not the investigation itself to arrest the murderer, and this is different from everything I’ve read before.

And this can be frustrating sometimes. It’s beautiful and it teaches us a good lesson, that life is ephemeral and you should live it before it’s too late. But if the characters have years and years to tell Susie goodbye, you as a reader only have 328 pages. And it goes so fast you feel almost outraged when they move on, because you didn’t. They evolve much more rapidly than you do.

Sometimes, Susie is even more grown-up than you can be, and she let them all go, as you can see on the gif above. It’s from the movie premiered a few years ago – not quite as good as the book unfortunately. But I thought this quote was a perfect summary of Susie’s spirit.

I don’t know if I really convinced you. Either way, I’d be curious to talk about it with you, so please, tell me what you think about the book if you’ve read it – or about the movie if you’ve watched it – in the comment section! And I’ll see you soon for a next book review.

Lots of love,


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