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helenliz

helenliz

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold I'm torn over my response to this book. It's an interesting surmise, a young girl is murdered and watches the impact this has on the life of her family and friends as they try and carry on without her. It's an interesting surmise. Most of us have lost someone lose such that the desire to know that they're alright or still there somewhere is very strong in most of us - even if we don't believe in a biblical heaven or hell. On one hand, it doesn't have a plot and the denouement is one of the most unbelievable pieces of fiction I have ever encountered. On the other, it had be wiping away tears for a fair portion of the second half of the book, so it certainly worked me over emotionally. It doesn't claim to be an essay on how to handle grief, but it does illustrate that different people react very differently to a death. Some people bottle it up, some people want to talk about it, each person's reaction is as unique as the relationship they had with the dead person. For me Lyndsey's reaction was the one that I could understand the most easily. The mother, however, eluded me completely. I'm not sure I ever quite understood her. Father seemed the least able to accept it, while grandma was a classic old school character - I bet they broke the mould when they made her. I think I'd have liked this book more if there hadn't been the interaction with Susie's soul and anyone else. That she touched Ruth as she departed this life gives rise to all sorts of very strange effects on Ruth and how she sees the world at large. Some people claim to be sensitive to atmosphere, it seems Ruth can sense where women & children have died at the hands of others. Which might inspire some powerful poetry and art (not that we get to see any of it) but does leave me concerned for her sanity in the long run. Strikes me that way madness lies. One of the scenes when Susie achieved resolution towards the end of the book was frankly very very odd. While Ray & Ruth are visiting (unbeknownst to them) the location of Susie's body, Susie's soul returns to earth, briefly, to inhabit Ruth's body, whilst Ruth's soul takes a brief visit to heaven, where she is feted by those women who's murder she has sensed. Ray then makes love to Susie in Ruth's body. This really was just a step to far for my belief, and the whole scene felt really very grubby. It left me, again, rather concerned about Ruth and the after effects on her. Not the sound basis for a relationship, methinks. There were some questions raised that this book never answers. There was, apparently, no judgement of Susie's soul. She heads to heaven as a matter of course. There is no mention made of "the other place" so we are not sure if all souls head to this place that is described as heaven or not. The murdered women in heaven - where are their murderer's souls? Could they bump into them? It's never explained. I'm also not quite sure that I buy the idea that in heaven you remain as you were when you died. Would you want to remain a 93 year old in heaven? mightn't you feel that, all the while, you've actually been 35 on the inside? Seems a bit unfair on the soul, somehow. The lack of definite plot, does bother me though. If asked to describe the story arc there really isn't one; Susie dies, life goes on. It could have stopped sooner, it could have carried on longer, it never seems to reach a conclusion. In that respect, I suppose grief never does actually end, you simply reach a state in which you can carry on with life, even though it is never the same as it was before. But this isn't real life, this is a novel and it ought to have some sense of an ending. That it ends with a birth simply completes the cycle of life, but it doesn't end the story. Hence I'm torn on a score. Emotionally it's possibly worthy of 5 stars, but the structure isn't worthy of anything more than 2. A compromise 3.