Book Review: The Lovely Bones


By Leen Mshasha, Writer

If you’re looking for a feel-good book, you’re in the wrong place. Alice Sebold pulls no punches in her novel, The Lovely Bones. From the very first sentence, we discover that 14 year old protagonist Susie Salmon, is brutally raped and murdered and is looking down at her family and friends from heaven. This might seem like a cliché about the afterlife or simply excessively morbid. Despite dealing with themes of death, and grief, Sebold’s novel maintains an overall cheerful tone, without being too cheesy and generic.

Throughout my reading, I felt a sense of perplexing unease that only made the story more haunting and exciting. This did make the novel slightly difficult to read at first, but as you progress further in the book, the story picks up, and you become accustomed to the discomfort of reading a dead girl’s thoughts.

The idea behind the novel is certainly original and makes for an eye-catching book, but it also takes away from the overall enjoyment of reading it. Towards the middle of the story, the plot starts to seem drawn-out. I realized this was because of the sense of finality the novel starts off with. Unlike most stories, this one immediately starts off with the death and all of the circumstances behind it, which removes a great deal of the suspense I expect from a good book.

Although a fair bit of time has passed since the book’s release, it is still powerful and relevant in light of the #MeToo movement against sexual assault. In Susie’s case, she is just fourteen years old when she is raped and, sadly, she is unable to speak up about what happened to her from the confines of her heaven. Nevertheless, the the author herself manages to raise awareness about the subject in this novel, by creating a character like Susie, and in her memoir Lucky, where she tells the story of her own rape in college.