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The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones

Review by Jack Foley

PETER Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong, was so moved by The Lovely Bones that he intends to adapt the book into a film himself.

It is easy to see why Alice Sebold’s debut novel struck such a chord with him, given the emotional impact the story should have upon anyone who reads it.

The Lovely Bones is as provocative as it is poignant; a book that deals with an ugly issue in a bold yet sensitive and often surreal fashion.

The story begins with the rape and murder of 14-year-old Susie Salmon as she is walking home from school on a snowy December day.

The story then unfolds from heaven, where Susie keeps watch over her family and friends as they attempt to come to terms with their grief, as well as keeping an eye on her killer, a serial offender, and the detective working her case.

As such, the book functions as both a compelling human drama and an intriguing detective piece, chronicling how Susie’s community (and particularly her family) strives to continue living in the wake of such tragedy, while also following the investigation into her death.

By allowing the story to be relayed via Susie’s perspective from heaven merely adds an extra, other-worldly dimension to the tale, which is both haunting and heart-breaking.

What’s more, it is also deeply thought-provoking, especially in its depiction of heaven as something which differs for each person inhabiting it.

Sebold deserves a lot of credit for handling such a difficult story with the utmost sensitivity, while delivering a clutch of well-realised and fully developed characters.

Everyone is memorable, from Susie’s father, who makes it his life’s work to track down her killer, to her younger sister, the unlikely heroine of the piece.

Even Susie’s school friends have a part to play, both as potential suspects and former love interests, all of whom develop in fascinating ways.

While the thriller element of the story, involving the fate of her killer, helps to ensure that The Lovely Bones remains a genuine page-turner.

Sebold should be praised, too, for the way in which she gets the mix of horror and sentiment just right given that the book is both unflinching and tender in equal measure.

Susie’s muder is horribly depicted but not over-embellished with unnecessary detail, making the more sentimental moments all the more effective.

The result is a story that manages to find hope in the darkest of places to deliver a tale born out of tragedy that is both uplifting and rewarding.

It should be fascinating to see what Peter Jackson does with it.