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The Lovely Bones

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The Lovely Bones Cover

ISBN13: 9780316168816
ISBN10: 0316168815
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. In Susie's Heaven, she is surrounded by things that bring her peace. What would your Heaven be like? Is it surprising that in Susie's inward, personal version of the hereafter there is no God or larger being that presides?

2. Why does Ruth become Susie's main connection to Earth? Was it accidental that Susie touched Ruth on her way up to Heaven, or was Ruth actually chosen to be Susie's emotional conduit?

3. Rape is one of the most alienating experiences imaginable. Susie's rape ends in murder and changes her family and friends forever. Alienation is transferred, in a sense, to Susie's parents and siblings. How do they each experience loneliness and solitude after Susie's death?

4. Why does the author include details about Mr. Harvey's childhood and his memories of his mother? By giving him a human side, does Sebold get us closer to understanding his motivation? Sebold explained in an interview about the novel that murderers "are not animals but men," and that is what makes them so frightening. Do you agree?

5. Discuss the way in which guilt manifests itself in the various characters - Jack, Abigail, Lindsay, Mr. Harvey, Len Fenerman.

6. "Pushing on the inbetween" is how Susie describes her efforts to connect with those she has left behind on Earth. Have you ever felt as though someone was trying to communicate with you from "the inbetween"?

7. Does Buckley really see Susie, or does he make up a version of his sister as a way of understanding, and not being too emotionally damaged by, her death? How do you explain tragedy to a child? Do you think Susie's parents do a good job of helping Buckley comprehend the loss of his sister?

8. Susie is killed just as she was beginning to see her mother and father as real people, not just as parents. Watching her parents' relationship change in the wake of her death, she begins to understand how they react to the world and to each other. How does this newfound understanding affect Susie?

9. Can Abigail's choice to leave her family be justified?

10. Why does Abigail leave her dead daughter's photo outside the Chicago Airport on her way back to her family?

11. Susie observes that "The living deserve attention, too." She watches her sister, Lindsay, being neglected as those around her focus all their attention on grieving for Susie. Jack refuses to allow Buckley to use Susie's clothes in his garden. When is it time to let go?

12. Susie's Heaven seems to have different stages, and climbing to the next stage of Heaven requires her to remove herself from what happens on Earth. What is this process like for Susie?

13. In The Lovely Bones , adult relationships (Abigail and Jack, Ray's parents) are dysfunctional and troubled, whereas the young relationships (Lindsay and Samuel, Ray and Susie, Ray and Ruth) all seem to have depth, maturity, and potential. What is the author saying about young love? About the trials and tribulations of married life?

14. Is Jack Salmon allowing himself to be swallowed up by his grief? Is there a point where he should have let go? How does his grief process affect his family? Is there something admirable about holding on so tightly to Susie's memory and not denying his profound sadness?

15. Ray and Susie's final physical experience (via Ruth's body) seems to act almost as an exorcism that sweeps away, if only temporarily, Susie's memory of her rape. What is the significance of this act for Susie, and does it serve to counterbalance the violent act that ended Susie's life?

16. Alice Sebold seems to be saying that out of tragedy comes healing. Susie's family fractures and comes back together, a town learns to find strength in each other. Do you agree that good can come of great trauma?

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 9 comments:

mfh913, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by mfh913)
This is a haunting tale that provides a unique view of heaven (and who can argue that it's wrong?). Very nicely and deftly written. Recommended.
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graciegram, January 24, 2011 (view all comments by graciegram)
I was drawn into this book from the start by the unusual perspective of telling the story from the point of view of the deceased. A young girl is brutally killed and she looks over and down on her family members as they go on about their lives. A very compelling read!
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
BookLoverST, December 9, 2009 (view all comments by BookLoverST)
The Lovely Bones will premiere tonight in Sydney, and I can't wait.

This movie reminds me very much of a novel (and upcoming film) that I loved and am anticipating, Forgiving Ararat. Both stories centered on the concept of life-after-death. Because of Forgiving Ararat, I'm full of hope for Lovely Bones.

If you've read and loved Lovely Bones, you'll love Forgiving Ararat.
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(3 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780316168816
Editor:
Adams, Terry
Publisher:
Back Bay Books
Author:
Sebold, Alice
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Teenage girls
Subject:
Crimes against
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Teenage girls; Rape-murders; Family tragedy; Grief; Loss; First loves; Life changes; Hope
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20040431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 x 1 in 0.8 lb

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The Lovely Bones Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Back Bay Books - English 9780316168816 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

By the time The Lovely Bones landed on bookstore shelves it had become the most highly anticipated book of the season. Then came the astonishingly enthusiastic critical response. Within two months, a million copies were in print. Still, readers encountering a simple plot summary might be tempted to turn away. Newspapers offer enough tragedy these days; do we really have time and energy for dark, tragic fiction? Consider those apprehensions dismissed: Sebold's debut fiction is an unflinching, graceful gift of a novel, an invigorating, expansive work of storytelling that should not work, but magically does.

"Review A Day" by , "Don't start Lovely Bones unless you can finish it. The book begins with more horror than you could imagine, but closes with more beauty than you could hope for....But emotionally, it's faultless. Sebold never slips as she follows this family. The risks she walks are enough to give you vertigo. A victim of rape herself when she was in college, she includes some deadly satire of the shallow advice people offer in the face of great loss. There is no "moving on," and time alone won't bring relief either. That only comes through the hard work of learning to care for the living while cradling the memory of this loved one. As her father eventually realizes, 'You live in the face of it.'" (read the entire CSM review)
"Review" by , "[A] small but far from minor miracle....[A] story that is both tragic and full of light and grace....Sebold maintains [a] delicate balance between homely and horrid....[F]ull of suspense and written in lithe, resilient prose that by itself delights."
"Review" by , "Intensely wise and gorgeously written, The Lovely Bones is a heart-breaking page-turner..."
"Review" by , "Sebold has given us a fantasy-fable of great authority, charm, and daring. She's a one-of-a-kind writer."
"Review" by , "Few novels, debut or otherwise, are as masterful or as compelling as Sebold's....[A] beautiful novel....[Sebold] challenges us to re-imagine happy endings, as she brings the novel to a conclusion that is unfalteringly magnificent. And she paints, with an artist's precision, a portrait of a world where the terrible and the miraculous can and do co-exist."
"Review" by , "An extraordinary, almost-successful debut that treats sensational material with literary grace....[A] thoroughly engaging voice....Works beautifully for so long as Susie simply tells the truth, then falters when the author goes for bigger truths about Love and Life. Still, mostly mesmerizing and deserving of the attention it's sure to receive."
"Review" by , "[A] keenly observed portrait of familial love....[A] deeply affecting meditation on the ways in which terrible pain and loss can be redeemed through love and acceptance."
"Review" by , "[P]ainfully funny, terribly sad, it is a feat of imagination and a tribute to the healing power of grief."
"Review" by , "[A] powerful first novel....Sebold's compelling and sometimes poetic prose style and unsparing vision transform Susie's tragedy into an ultimately rewarding novel. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Almost everything that makes The Lovely Bones the breakout fiction debut of the year — the sweetness, the humor, the kicky rhythm, the deadpan suburban gothic — is...packed into [the] first two lines, under pressure and waiting to explode....Sebold...imagines the unimaginable and in doing so reminds us that...missing girls aren't just tabloid icons or martyred innocents but real human beings..."
"Review" by , "If you only have time to read one book this summer, it's The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold."
"Synopsis" by , Now in paperback: Alice Sebold's luminous first novel--one of the most celebrated literary debuts of recent seasons--that builds out of a family's grief the most hopeful and joyful of stories.
"Synopsis" by , When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn't happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.
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