Stephanie Bradt: What do you say about THE LOVELY BONES (2002) by Alice Sebold? Conveniently enough, the only thing I really remember about this book is what bothered me. And by “bothered,” I do not mean that it just moderately irked me. I mean disgusted and appalled me. Just eww. And not a good ewww. Spoilers ensue.
The book starts with the tragic rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl by the town creeper, Mr. Harvey. The story is told from her perspective. For the rest of the book, the girl, Susie Salmon ("like the fish"), looks down on her family from Heaven.
The idea sounds like a promising story. I love character-driven plots. To see what happens to the family dynamic when something as awful as this happens is fascinating. The death of a child can bring family members closer together or violently tear them a part. Add that to the horrific manner of death. To make matters worse, all the family knows to begin with is that Susie did not come home.
Sebold ruined this amazing concept by presenting the most #*%$’d up ending I have ever seen in my life. I actually enjoyed the book until the ending. There is the usual drama, the younger sister loses her virginity in the mud under an upside down boat thing at age 14. The mom has a kind of affair with the detective who is in charge of the search for Susie. (Side note: The detective guy’s name is Len Fenerman. What a dumb name). Moving on, the dad doesn’t like making his ships-in-a-bottle anymore. The grandma has her own weird drunken issues to deal with.
Here goes. Susie likes a classmate named Ray. At least she is able to get her first kiss from him before she dies. She also has a weird friend named Ruth. Then again, she doesn’t really know her at all. They just have this weird connection thing after death. “Wtf?” you say? Just wait. At the end of the novel, somehow, the spirit of the eternally 14-year-old Susie possesses the body of the now 20something-year-old Ruth. I’m just going to say it. Via Ruth’s body, Ray has sex with Susie. How beautiful. They have always loved each other and now they get to consummate their relationship.
W.T.F. Am I supposed to NOT be freaked out by this? Or at least go straight to Confession for having read this? One- Technically, this is a 14-year-old having sex with a 20something-year-old. Two- The 14-year-old is actually an unconscious 20something-year-old. If I were Ruth, I would be pissed. Ray is basically Mr. Harvey if you think about it. But it is better to just not think about it.
As for the movie, THE LOVELY BONES (Peter Jackson, 2009). It thankfully leaves out all the kinky subplots and the event at the end, but it is trippy and bizarre. Don’t bother.
Jordan Bradt: The LOVELY BONES. Hmm, where should I begin? First, I want to say it’s the only book I’ve read so far of it’s kind – a teenage girl is raped and murdered by her neighbor. She then tells what happens to her neighborhood and family as she watches them from her special heaven. The story involves heartache and sadness. When I think about it, though, parts that made me cringe come to mind:
1) The cover involves a bracelet with a house charm. I don’t recall that charm being mentioned in the book. Ever. Discrepency! (if it is mentioned, please let me know and I’ll reread that page for peace of mind)
2) Her elbow is found by the neighbor’s dog. Thinking of that makes me wince.
3) She and her dog are reunited in heaven. I actually really like that part, but it’s only mentioned once. I wished their companionship above could have been included more.
4) The younger sister has sex in the rain under a boat. WHAT?! Seriously – what? There are kinky places to have sex (example, a hot tub), but in the rain (ew, mud) and under a boat (spiders and a low ceiling to bump against equals ow). Next time my boyfriend wants to liven things up I’m definitely going to suggest UNDER A BOAT IN THE RAIN. Not! Maybe I'm just weird. Maybe other people dream about that.
5) The mom leaves and has an affair. That just makes me sad. I get where it’s coming from, but still, it’s sad.
6) The 14-year-old girl takes over Ruth’s body and has sex with her crush. He’s 20-something. Um…that’s wrong. Really. SHE TAKES OVER SOMEONE ELSE’S BODY TO HAVE SEX. Wrong in many ways.
7) The sister and her boyfriend sneak into an abandoned house. They later decide to buy it, but it’s abandoned and they slink around it. I kept waiting for the floorboards to break beneath them. It’s really not a good idea to wander around abandoned houses in the middle of nowhere during a thunderstorm. They also started a fire in one of the rooms. Also a really bad idea.
8) The movie – one word comes to mind. Trippy. Very, very trippy. I saw the movie first, so throughout the book I kept picturing that.
9) The sister goes to a camp-thing where they have to work on a huge final project-thingy. It involves "how to execute the perfect murder." How convenient and weird. Let's teach the youth of the future how to commit crimes. This also leads to the sister having that kinky boat sex. She's so upset to think about murder, she has to think about sex instead. I get that it would be upsetting, but when I'm upset, I don't get horny. Again, maybe just me.
10) I remembered Susie's name...Susie Salmon, like the fish. I also remembered George Harvey. George...just like my boyfriend. Harvey...like the giant, invisible bunny in the 1950's movie, HARVEY. I saw Susie being attacked by a pooka. No disrespect intended. Those are the names I associated with other people. I also remembered Ray and Ruth, because my neighbor's were Ray and his wife Ruth.
My comments aren’t exactly in order of how they happen in the book. They’re in the order of what comes to mind first, and so on. Overall, not one of my favorite books. When my dad’s work had a book exchange, I gave him my copy to donate. Maybe someone else will find great enjoyment from it. I wish them happy reading.