The Lovely Bones
My mum has been nagging me to read this book for months and I’ve been putting it off for so long that I actually thought she had forgotten about it until I found it stuffed in the baby’s changing bag a couple of weeks ago.
There was no reason for me not wanting to read the book other than feeling too preoccupied with a new baby, a litter of puppies, worries about being made redundant and also my commitment to complete re-reading the Harry Potter books again. Life is pretty hectic and I didn’t think I had much room for another literary world to think about, boy was I wrong.
In a bid to dig out the Sudocrem from Albie’s changing bag, I came across ‘The Lovely Bones’ and placed it on my bedroom windowsill, only to be forgotten about for a few days until one night, I was finding it difficult to ‘shut off’ and sleep; my mind was so full of boggling dilemmas and fruitless problems that out of sheer desperation and the need to delve into a world where my problems disappeared, I picked up this book that my mum had raved about so much, turned to the first page and gave it a chance.
The cool flow of narrative drew my attention straight away, I was intrigued (as I usually am with such an approach due to the personal nature of it) with the first person narrative of Susie; the young girl whose experiences of death, heaven and after life I would go on to follow throughout the book.
Without giving too much away (you’d need to read it to fully understand how special this story is), the book starts out with Susie explaining her life and in detail, the moments leading up to her traumatic murder at the age of fourteen.
Through Susie’s narrative, Sebold goes on to paint a picture and build dimensions of heaven and afterlife with depths that I couldn’t even comprehend before reading the book. The way in which she describes how Susie watches and reaches out to her family (although unbeknownst to them) to provide comfort or hints as to the identity of her murderer, is sheer brilliance and I can be nothing short of impressed by the emotional context and constructs of the story which unfolds.
Susie tells the story of how her family copes with the grief of losing her, how she can only watch whilst the grief, anger and shock settles into her family home, how it affects each of her loved ones in their own way and their journeys to finding how to cope with life after Susie.
However, alongside the grief and frustration that is a common theme throughout the book, there are also notions of understanding, forgiveness, community, and the exciting beauty of love which can help to bring families back together again after facing such trauma.
All in all, Sebold offers some bold ideas about the possibility of life after death, just how close our lost loved ones can be after their passing and with subtlety, exhibits the painful journey from traumatic grief to gradual acceptance of letting a loved one rest in peace.
If you haven’t read ‘The Lovely Bones’, then you’re missing out and I would implore that you open your heart to Susie and the several dimensions of heaven she can show you.