Thursday, April 08, 2010


The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold, Little Brown and Company, 2002, 328 pp

I reread The Lovely Bones for the One Book at a Time Reading Group. I had recently read a chapter in Dorothea Brande's Becoming A Writer where she talks about how to read like a writer. One of the exercises was to read a book twice: once for pleasure and a second time for analysis. 

I began this reading by making notes about things I noticed and that was fine. But soon enough I was just drawn in to the story and reading with great pleasure. In fact, I liked the book much better this time. When I read it in 2003, I was looking at her whole heaven thing through my own spiritual views and hers made me uncomfortable. I found myself scoffing at that aspect of the book. I also felt at that time that the ending was sappy.

Now I have lost both of my parents, even watching one of them die. I've been five years grieving for them. What a difference it makes to have my own reality on losing loved ones.

Another point: I have now read enough to recognize that there are two themes going on here: One is the effect of a loss by death of a family member on the remaining members. Secondly, the book is a mystery because even though Susie knows who killed her, no one else does. She wants them to solve and revenge her death. Like Lisa See's hungry ghost in Peony in Love, Susie does not get everything she wants. None of us here on earth do. In fact, she gets much more of what she wants in her "heaven."

Then there is Ruth who is odd, psychic, and a student of death. She is like a Hindu goddess and actually the strongest character in the book. I noted that she only deals with women who were killed by forms of abuse from men.

In summary: rereading is very worthwhile, although I usually feel I don't have time because of all the books that I still want to read. But I now eagerly anticipate rereading my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison and Barbara Kingsolver. 

I have not seen the movie made from The Lovely Bones. I was a bit afraid of it but now that I have reread the book, I am ready. Has anyone seen it? I would value your comments.

(The Lovely Bones is available in paperback on the shelf at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)


  1. Hi Judy, great review!
    I saw the movie and didn't think it was that great but the topic is intriguing. I want to read the book to compare.

  2. Thank you again Carmen for all your visits today. I feel honored. The movie was pretty good, especially Susan Sarandon as the grandma! But it did not exactly capture the book, which is less Hollywoodish by a good deal. I predict you will like the book much more.