The Lovely Bones

by Alice Sebold

This novel starts with the murder of the protagonist, a young girl in her early teens. She entered heaven, where she watched her family, her friends, and even her murderer as they continued life on earth, triggering memories of her life once in a while.

The story is about letting go, moving on. Somehow I find it resonances strongly with the Buddhism teaching of non-attachment. When the girl Suzie got to “come back in life” for a short day, I expected her to rush to see her father, and to tell everybody who killed her, where her body was and where her murderer now roamed. To my slight disappointment, she made her first love to the boy she loved, and not much more. Contrary also to my expectation, the murderer was never caught and Suzie’s family never got to see him punished.

This is, however, what makes this novel outstanding. This is what makes it feel so real: while heaven and ghost and coming back to life is far from “real”, the emotions are so honest, the snippets of memories so believable, all the characters appeared three dimensional. For a 14-year-old, her true wish was to be with the boy she loved, to experience what she dreamed of but never tasted; which 14-year-old would be thinking about her parents, much less chasing down an ugly old psycho. For most families, they simply had to learn to move on after a painful loss, without any phone call from the other side, any proof of celestral existence. Instead of holding the grudge and being bent on revenge, it is better to open your heart to love and move on, live on.

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Published in: on June 27, 2006 at 6:45 pm  Leave a Comment