Sunday, November 30, 2008

Made To Last...The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - chapters 1 through 3

And so it begins...

"Inside the snow globe on my father's desk, there was a penguin wearina red-and-white striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, 'Don't worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He's trapped in a perfect world.'" 

What a way to start out a book, eh? 
In school right now, we're reading Fahrenheit 451 which kind of also deals with the whole "perfect world" theme. Is knowledge power? Or is it better to live a life in blissful ignorance without knowing the bad things that surround you?

Chapter one:
-We get introduced to Susie Salmon, murdered and raped on December 6, 1973. At first sight, she doesn't seem like much of a personality. She's very frank and blunt though which is refreshing. Reading the book through her eyes will be nice, I think. 
-Mr. Harvey is a complete whack-job. Who would dig an enormous hole in the ground and put that much effort into it if it was only going to be used once? To murder one fourteen-year-old girl? Maybe later in the story he'll do more than that?
-I was kind of relieved that the whole rape scene wasn't very graphic. You got the facts and nothing else. After reading Living Dead Girl, I think I can read anything now. That book was much more chilling and horrific than this one will turn out to be. At least from what I can gather so far.
-Although Mr. Harvey seems much like Living Dead Girl's Ray, now that I think about it. With the forcing the girl to tell him she loves him part. That whole needing to feel powerful vibe is present in both stories.
-And I'm uber glad that the killing part wasn't very graphic either. 

Chapter two:
-Heaven...I like it. The idea that you get whatever you desire is cool. You can make your world whatever you want. 
-Although why is Susie's heaven so simplistic? A high school, a sports complex, a duplex with another girl. If I were able to live in a world of my own creation, I would probably make it much more extravagant than hers. Maybe in some exotic country. With pretty scenery and good shopping. Although it does say that wishes have to be reasonable. Darn.
-I like the idea that you interact with people whose heaven's closely resemble yours. Kind of like a family.
-Susie's wish that she wants to watch the living is rather striking. That a girl who has everything she could want, instead of enjoying herself, wants to watch humans live their lives the way she never could is kind of bittersweet. 
-I really hope we get to know more about Franny and Holly. They seem like they could turn out to be really interesting characters.

-Can you imagine your oldest child missing? I really feel for Susie's parents. That would definitely not be a fun thing to live through. And then to have to break it to your other children...yuck.
-What did Mr. Harvey do with Susie's body after he killed her? Did he take it up out of the hole? Because in order for a dog to be able to find her elbow, and for there to have been a lot of blood in the dirt she must have been out in the field. Maybe killed out there? I don't even want to think about it. :(
-Poor Ray Singh. It's horrible to think that he liked Susie, wrote her a letter, and then she was murdered before she even read it. And then he gets accused of doing it, ruining his entire social life, let alone scarring him emotionally.
-It's so brutal to give Susie's family some amount of hope that she's still alive and then shatter that by presenting them with the hat her own mother made, after it had been used to gag her. And then to hear the words "murder case".

-Lindsey's whole encounter with the principal is rather funny and yet sad at the same time. If my sister had been murdered, I wouldn't go back to school for a looong time. And I think I'd have the same attitude as Lindsey. 
-I think she has more of a personality than Susie does. She talks back to Mr. Caden, barfs on cue, and does sit-ups and push-ups to cope with Susie's death. Wow.

-The scene at the end of this chapter really struck me.

"Mrs. Bethel Utemeyer, the oldest resident of my heaven, would brin gout her violin. Holly trod lightly on her horn. They would do a duet. One woman old and silent, one woman not past girl yet. Back and forth, a crazy schizoid solace they'd create.
All the dancers would slowly go inside. The song reverberated until Holly, for a final time, passed the tune over, and Mrs. Utemeyer, quiet, upright, historical, finished with a jig.
The house asleep by then; this way my Evensong."

Beautiful, right? I'd want to live in that heaven.

Chapter three:
-When we hear Ruth's story it illustrates just how many people can be affected by death. Not even people that were connected to the person in their living times. Anyone. We all read about deaths in the newspaper or hear about it from friends or family. An event like that is tragic and it really brings people together in a way. 
-And we all cope with that news in a different way. Clarissa turned to a guy. Ruth smoked pot and drew into herself.
-I can see where the smell of skunk might be found comforting...I guess...

"I felt the moist air lace its way up along my legs and arms, lifting, ever so slightly, the ends of my hair. I thought of spider webs in the morning, how they held small jewels of dew, how, with a light movement of the wrist, I used to destroy them without thinking."

-I kind of think of that passage as an illustration of how fragile, precious, and delicate life is. How maybe Susie is coming to discover new things about her life and the whole idea of existence. 
-When Susie sees her mother in the morning and sees her without any mask on, you can tell she was really changed. Seeing someone you look up to and trust faced with their own worries and fears would be an eye-opener for anyone.
-Susie's dad is the first in her family to really express his grief. He's finally realized that his daughter really isn't coming back and all the holes that she left in his day to day life will never be filled by her presence ever again. 
-In this last chapter, I enjoyed getting to look at the family more closely. It's hard to know what family dynamics would actually be like in a situation like this one so this book has been kind of like a little peek into a normally personal and concealed environment. 

So far I'm really liking the book. It's definitely different than anything else I've read as it doesn't focus so much on what's in heaven but instead focuses on the aftermath. It's really interesting and emotional and I think Alice Sebold has pulled it off nicely so far.


  1. Oh, I've read this one in the beginning of the year, and just a flash back from when I started reading it. This book is a great story. I loved it. I hope you enjoy it also!

  2. Wow there is so much I don't remember about this book! Although it has been 6 years since I read it, so I'm sure that's why. ;)

  3. I love this book.

    I think the reason you get that powerful vibe in this and Living Dead Girl is that's what rape is all about. Often it's misrepresented as overwhelming lust or somesuch. But no, rape is all about gaining power over the other person.

    Also, I though Susie's heaven fit a 14-year-old girl. I felt like maybe she played around with fantastic things sometimes, but her life was centered mostly around school . . . like you're permentantly caught at the age you die.


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