“I could not have what I wanted most: Mr. Harvey dead and me living. Heaven wasn’t perfect. But I came to believe that if I watched closely, and desired, I might change the lives of those I loved on Earth”.
From the cover: “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighbourhood.” Watching from her place in heaven, Susie Salmon sees her suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet…
I absolutely LOVED this book. I finished it in 2 days (a record considering my hectic schedule) and I think Sebold is a genius. Her writing style is completely engaging and it was so beautifully written that it had somewhat of an emotional impact on me. This is without doubt one of those stories that would stay with me for a long, long time. In The Lovely Bones, Sebold managed to play-down the dreadful notion that most people have of the afterlife, and made it sound both surreal and plausible at the same time. The character development was fascinating and believable, and her account of Mr Harvey, the murderer, was chilling to the bone. This is not a suspense/thriller though, despite the premise being set on murder. It’s more of a beautiful account of how a dead girl deals with her death, how her family deals with her death and how her death has affected the other people in her life.
If there was one teeny-weeny thing that I would pick on, it would be the part where Susie’s little sister attended the Gifted Symposium, in which that year’s annual challenge was titled “How to Commit the Perfect Murder”. Although I could understand the relevance/importance of having this part fitted in to the storyline, I really didn’t like the subject matter and I don’t think that any rational school principal would have picked such an inappropriate topic (assuming the intention was to inspire creativity amongst children).
Despite the little aversion I had on the above, I really think this is an amazing novel and I would highly recommend this to just about anyone.
My thoughts on the Movie:
Overall, I’m finding it really hard to review the movie without spoiling it for those who haven’t read the book. There were quite a few aspects of the movie that didn’t really thrill me, mainly because it lacked the depth and intensity that I experienced from reading the book. I guess in most cases, it is quite difficult to put together a solid 2.5 hour show based on a 328 page novel, but I seriously believe that the script could have been improved by showing less of Susie’s heaven and more of the on-goings on earth following her death, and how she had been observing it. Basically, there really wasn’t enough content on the murderer and it lacked the drama required to show the audience the extent of the heartache that the family went through. As a result of this, I found the movie slow and boring, plus my hubby said that I fell asleep half-way through for a good 20 minutes (I eventually replayed the missed parts the following day just so that I could give a thorough review).
On the positive side, there were some features of the movie that are worth mentioning. The role of Susie’s grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon was definitely top-notch. Also, Reece Ritchie, the guy who played Ray Singh (Susie’s secret admirer), is just to die for – watching him is as good as devouring a delicious hershey’s cookies and creme chocolate bar. I also thought that Peter Jackson did an amazing job in portraying Susie’s heaven, especially the in-between, which was breathtaking. I also liked it that he didn’t change Susie’s monologue, and stayed true to the exact words being used in the book, which were once again, beautifully written by Sebold.