Review of "The Lovely Bones"
Apologies for the late review. I joined this book club in late March and was trying to finish a pre-bookclub book, read The Lovely Bones, and start on 11/22/63 as well. It proved to be something of a task! I also felt I should give The Lovely Bones time to percolate in my mind before I reviewed as I found the book to be an intense experience.
I loved the writing style used by Ms. Sebold; she obviously has talent. The idea of writing an account of a vicious attack and murder from the perspective of the victim is fascinating: a disturbing portrait from the point of view not only of a deceased victim, but a child victim with all their incumbent innocence.
As I read, I felt encouraged (but not led or forced) to draw comparisons between the actual Sink hole at the edge of town and the 'sink hole' created in Suzie's home as a result of her death. Watching Suzie's brother and sister mature within/despite the sort-of sadness vortex in their home was compelling. I was genuinely angry and frustrated when Suzie's mom, Abigail, chose to leave the family home in an attempt to heal on her own, essentially leaving her grieving children and shell-shocked husband to fend for themselves. This, for me, is the signature of an excellent writer. The ability to seduce a reader into feeling anger/sadness/joy as a result of a story is why I read. Not to be forgotten is the hatred of Mr. Harvey which I'm sure everyone felt. Having an evil presence such as he in suburbia is no-doubt every parent's nightmare. Honestly, when Lindsey leapt from the top floor window of Mr. Harvey's house with the drawing of the cornfield-trap clutched like a talisman in her hand, my heart was in my throat.
My only criticism of the book came with the event of Suzie's possession of Ruth's body and the interlude between Suzie (in Ruth's body) and Ray. It felt a little odd and out-of-place within the story. I asked myself what was actually being attempted here. Was Alice S. trying to give Suzie (and us readers) a piece of the future she would have had? Was this an attempt to create some closure to the story? What was the intent behind allowing Suzie a chance at having her only adult experience? I cannot say. I certainly thought it was heart-warming, but given the majority of the story which was pitiless in it's truth about the injustices of life, I felt this was a weird deviation.
As the story came to a close, I found myself satisfied with the ending, middle and beginning. It was a masterwork novel from which I am sure a great many people found reason to have feelings about life and death and love. Which is, essentially, the point.