I’ve been trying to convince myself to read this book for a while now. I’d walk into a book shop and hold it in my hands, flip through the pages. I’d heard so many rave reviews about it but I was still hesitant. It was the subject matter that made me cautious - see the story is told by a 14 year old girl, who in 1973 is raped, murdered and dismembered by one of her neighbours. Once her spirit leaves her body she narrates the story from heaven, watching as her family fumble apart trying to get on with their lives. I can sit through cheesy horror movies with blood and guts hanging out everywhere and not be overly fazed but rape and murder terrifies me. It scares me like nothing else and rape of a child? I can’t cope with that. So, hence when I finally made the decision that I was going to buy that book and stood staring at it, I decided I’d read the first chapter right there and then in my local Waterstones. I put that book right back on that shelf. The first chapter was wonderfully written and I have a very good imagination. Those two combined and I knew every feeling Susie Salmon had as her neighbor, George Harvey violated her, as she pleaded for her life and he finally stole it from her. I walked away from the book.
A few weeks later someone from the pub I work in gave me a book as a gift. Guess which book it was: The Lovely Bones. I couldn’t say no to a gift of a book. I took it home and put it on the bookshelf which I’d recently bought and from there it stared at me, telling me to read it. I finally did. I couldn’t have a book on my shelf which had never been read, it wasn’t right. I pushed past my fears and delved in and once I got into it, The Lovely Bones was a beautifully written, heartwrenching tale of a girl with so much hope for life only to have that hope ripped away. Susie Salmon watched from her perch in the gazebo of her own personal heaven as her beloved sister grew into a woman, struggling to break free of the shadow of her dead sister and at the same time honour her sister’s memory by helping her father find Susie’s killer. She watched as her parents grew further and further away from each other, as her father became obsessed with finding her killer, as her baby brother grew into a polite, sweet teenager who, as a child saw her as his imaginary friend.
I would highly recommend this book but would advise anyone looking to start reading it to have a box of tissues handy. This book is heartbreaking, tear inspiring, beautiful and happy all at once - definitely one of my new favourites.