Monday, July 23, 2012

The Lovely Bones

Bibliographic Information: Sebold, A.  (2002).  The lovely bones.  Boston: Little, Brown and Company

Plot Summary:

My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

Susie Salmon is like any other ordinary 14 year old girl with crushes, younger siblings, parents she loves, and so much to live for. One day she decides to walk home through and old corn field, only to be abducted, brutally raped, and murdered by a psychotic neighbor.

Susie Salmon's story is told from her perspective, between heaven and earth, as she watches her family fall apart. Susie inter-splices her observations of her grief stricken father, her distant mother, and lost siblings, with flashbacks to memories, and to also share the beauty of the heaven she partially exists in. Susie must learn to let go of her family and all that ties her to the earth in order to finally be completely part of heaven.

Critical Evaluation: 

These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections- sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent- that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events that my death wrought were merely bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous body had been in my life.

-Alice Sebold, (Pg. 320)

Alice Sebold takes the title of her book from this passage. She builds a metaphor around  Susie's literal scattered bones to represent the things that come of the shards of life, the "lovely bones" that accumulate from what has passed, and grow to become a whole new being of hope and even happiness. The "lovely bones that had grown" represent the bone fragments that have knitted together in Susie's absence, the pieces that shattered apart upon her death, and have slowly mended together with time. Out of the space that was Susie's life, her family has been forced to rebuild again; and even though her family fought the movement of time, it was eventual and unrelenting.  Susie's father, her mother, even her siblings had no other choice but to move forward and from that movement has sprung forward "the lovely bones," small fragile bones that grew out of the barrenness of Susie's death. Susie recognizes the profound message that remains at the end of her tale, of a family so shattered that it has no other option but to come back together painfully, but lovingly. What begins again, "the lovely bones" that have risen are the result of the beauty that rises from the dark and sad.

Reader’s Annotation:
Caught between heaven and earth, 14 year old Susie Salmon tells that tale of her chilling demise as she watches over her crumbling family.  

Information About the Author: Alice Sebold was born September 6, 1963 in Madison, Wisconsin (, 2012). Her early life was difficult and was greatly influenced by an alcoholic mother that was often crippled under bouts of panic and anxiety (, 2012). Unfortuantely, Sebold's life only became more difficult when she was brutally raped in a tunnel at Syracuse University (, 2012). This influenced Sebold's life greatly, causing her fear and anxiety throughout the years (, 2012). She later graduated and attempted to pursue a graduate program in Texas (, 2012). Sebold was unable to finish this program due to a heroin addiction (, 2012). She later moved to New York City where she worked a variety of odd jobs (, 2012).

Sebold later moved to California and matriculated in a graduate program at University of California, Irivine (, 2012). It was during this time that she wrote her first book, Lucky (the police to her she was "lucky" to survive her attack since another girl was similarly attacked and murdered) (, 2012). She later wrote The Lovely Bones which was later turned into a movie (, 2012).

Sebold currently lives in San Francisco, CA with her husband (, 2012). 

The Lovely Bones movie trailer
Fantasy, Mystery, Horror, and Suspense, Contemporary, Crossover 

Subgenre: Psychopaths, Death and Deadly Disease, Alternate and Parallel Worlds 

Curriculum Ties: Can tie into a discussion on the afterlife.

Booktalking Ideas:

1). What is keeping Susie rooted to earth?
2). Why do Susie's parents become distant with each other?

Reading Level/Interest Age:Lexile Reading Level: 890/Adult (Follett's Titlewave, 2012)
Adult Crossover to YA (, 2012)

Challenge Issues: This book portrays the harsh subjects of murder, rape, and family instability. I would use the following items to defend it:

1) Refer to Library Bill of Rights, see items: I, II, and III (
2) Refer to San Diego Public Library collection policy - (  Original site: The American Library Association (ALA) Freedom to Read/View Statement (
3) Refer to California School Library Association (CSLA), Model School Library Standards - September 2010 ( PDF: (
4) Refer t0 American Association for School, Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner (
5) Contact Office of Intellectual Freedom for any further support, 800-545-2433, ext. 4223 or
6) Refer to legitimate book reviews, such as: School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book and others; found on either Academic Search Premier, Follett's TITLEWAVE, or

Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?:
This book has very intense subject matter (murder and rape), but includes some of the most beautiful prose and imagery available in a modern book. Teens will be able to identify with Susie Salmon as she attempts to watch over her family and deals with questions of death, life, and heaven. I picked this book because of its very vivid main character who even in death is able to relate with the every day problems of a teen and her family.

Reference Page:  (2012).  Alice Sebold biography.  Retrieved July 24, 2012 from  (2012).  YA to adult crossover.  Retrived July 24, 2012 from

Follett's Titlewave.  (2012).  The lovely bones.  Retrieved July, 24 2012 from Follett's Titlewave iPhone app.

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