I read The Lovely Bones for the first time about 6 years ago, I think. Alice Sebold wrote a book that I have a complicated relationship with. Even back then, before I had a child, the subject matter made me very uncomfortable. I’m sure it would be even worse now. I’m finding that I’m no longer able to read books or watch shows where children are in danger with the same oblivion I used to be able to. Being a parent has changed me.
Summary of The Lovely Bones
These aren’t spoilers, you can get them from the dust jacket. A teenage girl is murdered by a sicko. She goes to Heaven. This is where I thought the story was actually handled in a very interesting way. A girl in Heaven–her own personal heaven, as the story says–watches her family dealing with her disappearance and denying that she is dead until her body is actually found.
The police eventually tell the parents that there are no more leads they can follow. This has to be the worst news that a parent can hear, short of the knock on the door or the ringing phone with “We found the body” on the other end.
Her father continues searching. He has his own leads. And up in Heaven, the girl watches this all unfold.
I won’t read it again
I am a religious person, but The Lovely Bones left me cold. I believe in something bigger than myself, although it’s not really the kingdom up in the clouds where we’ll all just get to sing hymns forever. That sounds really boring.
I also have a very difficult time dealing with grief, whether it’s my own or others. I have been to a lot of funerals and I cry at every single one. I have always felt like I’m overly sensitive to other people’s pain. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It just seems to be the way it is. I gear up for every single one, vowing that it will be different, and then I wind up bawling and shaking.
It’s not fear of death. I’m not scared of it. It’s not some weird empathic ability. I’m not sure what it is. Anger doesn’t affect me the same way. No emotion other than sadness does. This is one of the few things I don’t know how to control and suspect I never will.
The Lovely Bones is written skillfully enough that it was too close to someone else’s grief for me. It felt like going to a funeral. I could not enjoy the novelty of the story and its approach.
I’ve talked with many people who found this book very comforting. I personally cannot find anything here that does anything but make me feel sad and cold.
I’m not sorry I read it, but I’ll never do it again.
Agree? Disagree? I’ve heard the movie is horrible, but haven’t seen it.
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