The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

I have to admit that the only reason I bought this book was because Peter Jackson was directing the film. Not only am I a Lord of the Rings freak, but I also have been overwhelmed by his Heavenly Creatures (1994).
Alice Sebold's second book is about Susie Salmon (like the fish), a 14-year-old girl who, after being raped and murdered by one of her neighbours, narrates the story of her family and friends from her heaven. It is the story of a life which starts when it unexpectedly comes to an abrupt end.
She dies but not completely, living on in her heaven (note the possessive) and watching her family and friends as they go on with their lives, not entirely the same anymore. You witness her sister coping in her very own way, thus shifting her personality for the rest of her life. You see her parents lean into each other, break away, fade in different directions. You see her friends holding onto her or forgetting her altogether. But you see them, each of them, altered, knitting a web over memories of her. The book is beautifully written and you surprise yourself loving these struggling imperfect characters, as Susie does from her heaven.

One always tries to seek the keys of a story in the life of its author: is it autobiographical? is there a reason for this specific development? why? all the more so when you read this encounter, this clash between those two contraries that are Susie's innocence (hoping that this one word can fully embrace the concept) and her neighbour's perversity and corruption of mind. Alice Sebold has been raped during her freshman year at University; she wrote about it in a memoir, Lucky. She then used some of it in The Lovely Bones. You instantly fall for Susie, for her sweetness and originality, and you follow her in this gruesome experience that she doesn't fully understand and never grows up to.

This book feels just like a Jane Austen book or Jane Eyre for women and Farenheit 451 for human beings in general - a must-read. I wouldn't say it is a book about rape (though it is obviously a serious aspect not to neglect, be it in fiction or in real life). I see it more as a book about people, how they grieve, how they cope, and how they stand by each other.

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