From October 31, 2010
Not often do we get the tale of a murder mystery told entirely from the point of view of the victim, but this is done well in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, a tale about a family dealing with the death of their raped and murdered daughter, does just that.
We, as readers, know from the off who the murderer is, but of course the police and the family do not. Very early in the story though the father does figure it out. Due to lack of evidence, however, they are not able to arrest the man. When things start to close in on him he takes off and continues to murder. he’s never actually caught, but he does die at the end of the story.
We are taken through three hundred and seventy-two pages of the family’s grief and their struggle to move on with their life. It takes a long time, but finally they do, and Susie, after a brief return to earth in the body of a girl who is attuned to the spirit world, finally accepts her own death.
With the mention of church at the beginning of the story, and the fact that Susie goes to heaven one would expect the religious aspects of the book to be very heavy-handed indeed, however this is not the case. Susie never appears to her family and tells them that she is in a better place, or tells them to go to church more. There might b brief glimpses of her throughout the lives of her father and brother, but that is the extent of the cross-over, except the possession of Ruth Connors, that is.
What does Susie do when she returns to earth? She misses and makes love to Ray Singh, a boy that she had a crush on for years. This might seem rather trite when explained like that, but it seems of rather more importance given the way that Susie died, and the impact it had on both Ruth and Ray’s lives. The pair of them did become friends, but otherwise sheltered themselves away from everyone else – until Susie’s return. We never quite get the whole picture of what happens with Ray and Ruth, but I like to think that they did eventually get together, because of course they now have that common bond of knowing that dead people can come back to earth, however briefly.
It is important to see the passage of time in this story, to know that for many, many years the family was not able to move on, but through their own relationships they were able to eventually accept the death of their daughter and sister, and while they won’t forget, they will not allow her to