The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Suzie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighbourhood. My Mother liked his border flowers, and my Father talked to him once about fertilizer.

Our second chosen book was The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.  The opening question to the group was how did they feel after reading the first chapter.  Were they moved?  Did they find it disturbing?  Whilst I found it a little too close to the ‘what if it happened to my sibling?’, others were unfazed and unsympathetic over Suzie’s death.  One member described her going into the dug out as naive, but then we questioned this, after all, she knew the man, had seen her parents talk to the man and compared it to modern murders where children had innocently gone into the homes of people they knew i.e. The Soham murders.

We then went on to discuss how the loss of grief was conveyed in the novel.  How the Father described the loss of a sibling to his son in the use of Monopoly figures was particularly poignant.  How the tragedy starts to unwind the family dynamics was also mentioned as a pivotal  point of the novel, especially as one member pointed out that the key focus of the novel was about middle America and the family unit, with the death of Suzie being secondary to this. 

A question was raised whether we felt Suzie’s Mother was selfish in her motives for leaving.  This raised the strongest emotions with members.  Some said that in a way she was  doing the best possible thing she could for the family whilst others argued that she was wrong in deserting her family when they needed her the most.

The strongest reaction raised by members was in regards to Suzie appearing in Ruth’s body.  This was deemed as unrealistic, far-fetched and completely spoilt the flow of the novel.  However one member raised the idea that the connection between Suzie and Ruth is in the novel as  Suzie deems the life of Ruth, one which she would have liked to have lived.

Although I thought the icicle death of Mr Harvey at the end completed the story, others thought that it was unrealistic.

All in all, the members that were present at the meeting decided that The Lovely Bones just didn’t enlighten them and wouldn’t recommend it to others.

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