...without me in it." ~Susie (The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold)
I didn't want to like this novel. When I saw "The Lovely Bones" on the horror genre reading list, every nucleus in my body rebelled against it. It was a novel I'd heard young girls gushing over in the college parks and on the Metro in DC when I was riding home from work. I filed it into my mental bin of gooey literary novels...the kind I despise reading because everyone else does...because it's the "in" thing to do. Not because it's good, but because it's a talking point, one of the things the "in crowd" of society does. It's the thing to talk about at parties, and other social functions. And I hate social functions almost as much as I hate the "in crowd" and so I eschewed this novel, and was mapping my path of projectile vomit before having to read the mandated pages.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, because I can't decide which) what I received from this story was...unexpected. I hate that Scott Johnson made me read this novel. I also hate that I enjoyed it so very immensely, and that it turned me into one of those gooey eyed girls in the park and/or on the Metro. This novel was, in a sense, a ghost story...but it was so much more than that on many levels. It's a novel that stands out like a sore thumb among the other novels we've read because it's so visceral, so real, so emotionally packed.
Alice Sebold reaches the reader through a young teenage girl Susie, who is raped and then murdered by a neighbor who lives nearby. We see Suzie's brief life flicker out, and then watch life unfold around her after her death... and she see's what happens in the world without her. It was a unique perspective to read in, feeling like all the while I was sitting with Suzie listening to her thoughts/emotions, seeing what she was seeing. What I enjoyed most about Sebold's writing was that it was fresh, unencumbered by unnecessary words. It was believable from the perspective of a young teenage girl because the narrative and the dialogue wasn't too complex and the intimacy of tender youth wasn't covered up by excessive verbosity. :)
While this book may not rate among my favorite for this semester's readings ("The Shining" has got it so far...) I have to rate it as the most emotionally fulfilling and draining. Something in the pages drew sorrow out from the pores of my body, made me cry at how unfair both life and death can be, and helped me realize how desperately simple and loving our humanity is...even in death. For that, I'll both curse and give thanks to Scott Johnson for the experience, although I will still hide the novel from my bookshelf and try not to let my lower lip tremble when someone mentions it.