I read this book about five years ago. If I have time to read it again in the next couple of weeks then I will, but otherwise will use what I remember from my original reading. (Dodgy, I know!)
I thought it was a book of two halves.
I found the first half absolutely heart wrenching, and cried my way through a lot of it! I think having a narrator who is such a young age with a naive outlook on quite a lot of things evokes a lot emotion through her comments and understanding of what is/has happened to her.The unravelling of her family is heartbreaking. I found myself both rooting for the father to keep pushing and have the killer caught, but also for him to stop, let it go and reconnect with the members of his family who were still there. It was really interesting and sad to see how the different characters dealt with the loss.
However, I found both the plot and my emotional reaction deteriorated throughout the second half of the book. I felt it became more surreal as it focussed on her schoolmates. I felt the first half was about emotions, dealing with death and loss, etc, then the second half became a sort of supernatural affair. I lost touch with the book when the 'possession' scene happened with Susie's friend and the boy she was in love with. It just really turned me off, and I felt it had no place in the book and spoilt all the work Sebold had put into it so far. Perhaps that was just me though?
I read this book a couple of weeks ago, and saw the movie on Wednesday. The thing I really liked about the book was its interpretation of heaven
how everyone had their own heaven, but bits overlapped. And how she wasn't going to be able to get more into heaven until she could leave her life behind.
But in the movie
I didn't like it as much. The really long scene of her trying to find heaven bored me, where she kept seeing the pagola and the cornfield kept turning to water. I know they were trying to be symbolic, but I think of it was lost.
Back to the book
I agree that the possesion scene was weird. That was the one down moment in the book for me. I didn't find the two halves thing you did Lucy, but I agree with being torn between wanting the father to give up and wanting him to find the killer! I did start to get confused by Lindsey's boyfriend and his brother sometimes though.
And once more to the movie, I think it was on the whole a good interprettation. They had to change some things and leave bits out, but that's fair enough because they wouldn't have had time for it all.
I wish there could have been more on Lindsey, because I really enjoyed her fighting with suddenly being both daughters in one, and all that kind of stuff, in the book. But I did like the bits that were in it. And when she was breaking into Mr Harvey's house, the entire theatre was on edge! I was in the backrow and could see everyone jump at the slightest noise, and make all 'oh no...' noises. That bit was really well done, I thought.
A lot of the changes I didn't mind. I actually kind of liked the mother not having an affair with the police officer, because I don't think there would have been time to do all her issues justice and she would've just looked trashy. Changing the order of things like throwing the safe in to the sinkhole etc I thought was fair enough, because showing things like a dog finding her elbow would've been pretty graphic. And I guess having Ruth live at the sinkhole made it easier to include her, becuase they didn't really have time to get right into that either. But again, I thought the possesed scene was the lowpoint of the film, although at least in the movie it was a bit less weird. The one change I didn't like was that Holly was a victim of Harvey too. I just didn't like it, even though it's a pretty tiny change.
I actually have a funny story regarding this book (so forgive me for spamming). About 6 years ago, I was in an airport bookshop with my brother's girlfriend. She recommended this book, but I was drawn to another book with an interesting cover. Which book, you ask? Why Obernewtyn, (which I have yet to see in any other American bookstore since), of course!
I started The Lovely Bones first, and I actually became physically ill (during the flight) in the first chapter when it described the circumstances under which Susie died. So, I soldiered on for a few more chapters until I finally gave up and turned to Obernewtyn.
Ah, yes, my OC obsession began there...although, now that I'm older I really should give The Lovely Bones another try. I was just so horrified by her abuse and death at the time.
I first read this book about 6 years ago, then re-read it only a few weeks ago, and completely agree with Lucy. For the first half I couldn't put it down, then it sort of dropped off, although it was still compelling enough for me to finish it.
One thing I wasn't really satisified with was the end of Mr Harvey's story - I felt that he should have been caught to give some sort of final closure for the families rather than being killed pretty much by accident.
ok so I just finished this book. its 6.20am lol
I packed it in my bag today when I went into town, just because you never know when you may get a chance to read. I ended up in a cafe, and 4 lattes (surprisingly good ones considering its England, and it wasn't antipodeans running it!) and pulled it out and started reading it.
prolly a really bad idea... its now been added to my list of "Books Not to Read in Public" along with The Book Theif!
for someone who has rather over active tearducts, I did surprisingly well! I was teary, but at least I wasn't sobbing :P
I looked up at one point while trying to subtly wipe my eyes and caught the eye of a college girl sitting with friends and she's like "you prolly shouldn't read that in public!" lesson learned. (it was smaller and lighter than my hardcover version of Sabriel!)
over all, I really liked it. I'd actually in mod-mode skimmed this thread without thinking and caught the start of Lucy's post - so I had in my mind beforehand the two phases of the book.
It did seem to switch, which I think reflects the grieving process of her family, and also Susie's acceptance of her own death. I love that Buckley see's her more often, and I feel so bad for Lindsey and people seeing Susie in her.
I love her father, especially with his candle in the den window for her. :)
Abigail annoyed me, but at the same time I can see her own grieving process in her behaviour.
I grew a little frustrated with the second half of the book, the story started to dance around the sink hole, getting closer and closer - and I kept thinking 'surely they'll find the safe and Harvey will be caught' but they never did :-/ Especially once Samuel and Hal were introduced - I had an 'uh huh!' moment thikning thats how they'd tie it in... but no.
Hal kind of seemed pointless, I kept waiting for him to have more of a role, but he kind of just hung at the edges. I like grandma Lynn, I thought she was pretty fantastic. I love that she got the same vibe from Harvey.
Ray and Ruth..... hmmm, I liked them both, but like you girls, the posession bit distanced me. it was more surreal compared to the rest of the book, which whilst being narrated by Susie from Heaven, had a scarily real edge to it.
at the same time I like that Susie and Ray had some closure on their relationship.
I loved Sebold's concept of heaven ^_^ its so peaceful and life like - in the sense that there's people living there. I liked how she was comparing and contrasting Heaven and Earth.
at the start, Susie's naievety and innocence is just painful to read, but I thought the memorial was sweet.
I found the idea that she knew when people she loved and knew her were mentioning her/thinking of her - and it was different to when people she didn't know where thinking of her as the murdered girl rather than as Susie.
I haven't seen the movie yet.... will take a plentiful supply of tissues with me!!
/6am ramblings ~:|
I had this book recommended a few years ago, and enjoyed it - I would definitely read it again, although it's not one of my favourite books - I think I had the same problem as a couple of you, in finding it inconsistent.
I was interested in seeing the film until I saw a terrible review of it and decided to wait for DVD. I agree with those who've said that The story starts off really well, but then gets off track. It also annoyed me that he was never caught. He got karma-d, I guess, but I really wanted her family to get closure, especially since her father had agonised over it so much for so long. I get that Alice Sebold was making a point that closure doesn't always happen, which is understandable, but it still bugged me. My favourite aspect of the book was probably that Susie was telling it from her heaven (and I liked her character's voice, starting with how she introduces herself), as well as (along with Cat!) the idea of people having their own heavens that overlap. It's just a lovely idea. :)
One thing the book, and particularly the movie, brought home to me was how hard it is to get closure when someone disappears and no body is found. I mean, it's terrible no matter what if a child dies, but at least if it's illness or an accident like being hit by a car you can have a funeral. Sure, with a missing person there's definitely a point where you have to start thinking 'Well, maybe she hasn't run away and she hasn't been kidnapped, maybe something's happened to her' but you just don't know. Last year a girl who'd been kidnapped and held for something like 18 years was found, wasn't she? So you can imagine the familes are always stuck not knowing, and unable to do something as simple as have a funeral.
I think this was more obvious in the movie because in the book they find her elbow, so it's a bit more likely she's dead. In the movie all they find is her hat, and no one knows. I just felt so sorry for her family, and all families in that kind of situation. It's terrible.
I read this book last year, and I remember having to 'force' myself to finish it. I think because knowing stuff like that happens and people get away with it made me sick.
Then I started to think what I would do if I was in any of the family's position :\ I haven't seen the movie and I think I'll wait till it's out on dvd.
The ending was a bit weird with her falling down heaven and so on but I didn't mind it..
This is one of my favourite books. I first read it about five years ago and my copy is falling apart because I've loaned it to so many people.
The exploration of grief and the different effect on different people to me always struck very true. There are parts of the book that are difficult to read, but for me it has always been a satisfying book, I find a sense of completion to the story.
Alice Sebold was an assault victim and has written a non-fiction book about what happened to her, called Lucky. She called the book Lucky because that's what they told her she was when she was 'only' assaulted, because the previous victim was killed. Which may help to explain why the violence in the book is so real - it was written by someone with a real experience of it.
I have a slightly different view on some of the issues others have raised
there is a certain truth in a family never really knowing what happened to a murder victim. For me the death of Mr Harvey was more of a natural justice for Susie, the way he dies alone and rejected, robbed of any power he previously had.
Finally, in terms of the possession, whilst I admit that for some (most?) it may be a bit of a stretch, for me it really fit with Susie, who hungered to be alive and to feel. To me, she couldn't really give herself up to heaven and whatever was there for her until she was ready to let go of what was happening, so it was her 'closure' on life, for want of a better expression.