the oddity of suburbia

The Lovely Bones is an account of Susie Salmon's rape and murder case, narrated by Susie herself. The book focuses on her family's effort in solving the murder case after her decease. Susie is then living in heaven, and her afterlife there is another focus of the story. Author Alice Sebold tried to frame an imperfect heaven, where you are allocated to an "area" between the sky and the earth, and share this space with the other dead as though you were living in a dorm. You still can wander about and make connection to the earth in various ways, but there's also another option where you can detach completely from the earth. In Sebold's version of heaven, things work in such way that if you wish for them hard enough, they will come into existence for you. I've been comparing this concept to Rhonda Byrne's The Secret since I first read these lines

I did begin to wonder what the word heaven meant. I thought, if this were heaven, truly heaven, it would be where my grandparents lived. Where my father's father, my favorite of them all, would lift me up and dance with me. I would feel only joy and have no memory, no cornfield and no grave.

'You can have that,' Franny said to me. 'Plenty of people do.'

'How do you make the switch?' I asked.

'It's not as easy as you might think,' she said. 'You have to stop desiring certain answers.'

'I don't get it.'

If you stop asking why you were killed instead of someone else, stop investigating the vacuum left by your loss, stop wondering what everyone left on Earth is feeling,' she said, 'you can be free. Simply put, you have to give up on Earth.'

This seemed impossible to me.

Susie's death has made a great impact on earth --primarily on her family & crush-- but there is also one girl she barely knows in school through whom she "communicates" (and gradually establishes main connection) to the earth. Susie keeps watching these people, wanting to point out who is responsible for her death but all her efforts seem futile due to the lack of physical evidence. Susie has to watch the breakdown of her family as well, following her death.

I didn't like the book as much except for its striking introduction

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. In newspaper photos of missing girls from the seventies, most looked like me: white girls with mousy brown hair. This was before kids of all races and genders started appearing on milk cartons or in the daily mail. It was still back then when people believed things like that didn't happen.

Overall I found the book rather exhausting with all her family members avoiding Susie's death in their own ways (with the exception of her younger brother since he's too young to capably understand what death really means). Her father has become more selective with words so as to not remind himself of the murder, her mother tries to seek comfort in her affair, her enduring sister does not put her last name on the name tag so people will not associate her with the murder

Another tiresome part of the book is how Susie's father has that precise guess of who the murderer is but not the adequacy to resolve/find the evidence to the murder, resulting in his attempting some consequential stubborn actions trying to convince the police that what he has is not just a faint intuition

By the time his presumption is finally proven true --like most stories-- it's already too late.

There are also unnecessary details in this book that might appeal to some people (eg Susie's sister relationship with her boyfriend, the awkward string connecting Susie, Ray her crush and Ruth her 'mediator', Susie's grandma teaching make up techniques to Susie's sister) . I just can't relate very much to the writing style and the content of the book

However I like how in this book, adult relationships are portrayed as dysfunctional and troubled, whereas the relationships of younger people seem to have depth, maturity and potential. I like this because to a certain extent it is very true since as you grow up, you bring more things into your increasingly careful consideration. Some people grow into more pessimistic/realistic individuals, and this could imply more depression and aversion along the way. But this might also evoke the urge to escape from such state of mind by looking for easy/adulterous/short-term pleasure. Therefore, higher chances of being involved in such a dysfunctional relationship

Another notable thing about this book is the way Susie's father being quietly swallowed up by his own grief, as he has to undergo the denial - anger - acceptance cycle. His emotion is very poignant and real, it seeps and sinks into your mind. I like (symphatise with?) his character the most.

(PS. has anyone seen the movie? I'd like to.)


  1. wanna read that book too! ehh, actually I want to try to read a book in english (I've been reading books in indonesian my whole life, translation mostly).

    anyway, love to reading your blog! such an inspiration


  2. hi nadine!

    thank you very much, you may try this book but i won't really recommend it, it's a tad boring and sappy. :) for a start perhaps you could pick 'the curious incident of the dog at the night-time' by mark haddon. it's clever, funny and severely honest.

  3. I already watched the movie. it was so-so, but the visualization of 'heaven' was pretty good tho :)

  4. yup i quite liked how in the book heaven is mostly visualized as an 'extension' to the earth, and also the book has provoked some deeper thoughts like, "where do the dead go?"

    (it sounds quite different if you hear it from a 14yo, whose life is being taken away too fast)