In this age when young girls found missing seem to lead every newscast, Alice Seboldís The Lovely Bones [Little, Brown] seems uncomfortably appropriate. Selected as a must-read in book clubs across America, The Lovely Bones is a suspenseful, emotional, and life-changing story.
Seboldís main character, Susie Salmon, is brutally raped and murdered at fourteen years old. This happens in the first pages and rest of the book is narrated by Susie as she watches her family and friends from heaven. But Susieís heaven is not all airy fairies and angels with wings: instead, itís an ever-changing window on the world, a place where she can make sense of the senseless and strive to find peace.
The tone throughout the novel is very teenage, which is part of its beauty. Susie isnít imparted with omnipotent knowledge in the afterlife. Sheís still learning all the time, still dreaming of what high school and sex would have been like, still wondering if thereís a way to get back.
The Lovely Bonesí ending is a finely-crafted metaphor that ultimately explains the title. I wonít reveal much more than that, save to say that those bones are not the bones we expect from the result of murder. The Lovely Bones is a story of spirit, but more so, itís a story of humanity with all the joyous defects and blemishes that make us people, and make it a joy to be alive.
Read this important book, and pass it on.