The story begins with a murder. More specifically, it opens with the rape an murder of a young teen, 14 year old Susie Salmon. From this horrible nightmare springs the study of a family from the inside out as they deal with the difficulty of grieving before a body has been found, the reader watches them pull apart, and pull together over time.
Susie narrates the story from her version of heaven -- where fashion magazines are textbooks -- where she can watch and listen to those on earth. She watches her family, her dog, her neighbours, even her killer. She discovers that she touched others in ways she was not aware.
Bottom line: I loved this book. It read like my favourite young adult fiction -- the protagonist is a teen; there are supernatural elements; the story is layered yet not obtuse. The fascinating thing about The Lovely Bones is that it just barely skirts the falsely sweet and manipulative passages you would expect to find in a novel about the death of a teen, and author Alice Sebold pulls no punches when describing the crimes committed. The book is bittersweet; its final pages not what I expected, though exactly what was needed. I suspect when the movie is released in 2007, the ending will be different.
Buy The Lovely Bones at Amazon.ca