The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

76%

49 Critic Reviews

Beautifully written, consistently surprising, and utterly assured, The Lovely Bones makes re-creating half a dozen genres simultaneously look like an effortless afternoon's work.
-AV Club

Synopsis

Once in a generation a novel comes along that taps a vein of universal human experience, resonating with readers of all ages. The Lovely Bones is such a book - a phenomenal #1 bestseller celebrated at once for its narrative artistry, its luminous clarity of emotion, and its astoniishing power to lay claim to the hearts of millions of readers around the world.

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

So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on eath continue without her - her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling.

Out of unspeakable traged and loss, The Lovely Bones succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy

"A stunning achievement." -The New Yorker

"Deeply affecting. . . . A keenly observed portrait of familial love and how it endures and changes over time." -New York Times

"A triumphant novel. . . . It's a knockout." -Time

"Destined to become a classic in the vein of To Kill a Mockingbird. . . . I loved it." -Anna Quindlen

"A novel that is painfully fine and accomplished." -Los Angeles Times

"The Lovely Bones seems to be saying there are more important things in life on earth than retribution. Like forgiveness, like love." -Chicago Tribune
 

About Alice Sebold

See more books from this Author
Alice Sebold is a graduate of Syracuse University, and she received her MFA at the University of California, Irvine. She has made her living as a teacher and has also written for The New York Times Magazine. She currently lives in southern California, where she is at work on her first novel.
 
Published August 7, 2002 by Little, Brown and Company. 352 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books. Fiction
Bookmark Counts:
1
Have Read
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for The Lovely Bones
All: 49 | Positive: 38 | Negative: 11

Kirkus

Above average
on May 20 2010

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...

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jun 17 2002

...providing the warmth of a first-person narration and the freedom of an omniscient one. It might be this that gives Sebold's novel its special flavor, for in Susie's every observation and memory—of the smell of skunk or the touch of spider webs—is the reminder that life is sweet and funny and surprising,

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Ali Smith on Aug 16 2002

The Lovely Bones is so keen in the end to comfort us and make safe its world that, however well-meaning, it avoids its own ramifications.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Philip Hensher on Aug 10 2002

The sentiment is an approximate imitation of feeling; the details are lazy and incredible (fingerprints on a buried bottle survive years on end, for instance); the overall moral of the triumph of love is one which any thinking person will resent and reject. It will, in short, do extremely well.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones | See more reviews from Guardian

Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Jamie Kelm on Dec 20 2012

This story shows that even among the most unimaginable tragedy, there is room for growth and that sometimes the best way to honor the deceased is to hold the ones still with you a little closer.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Examiner

Below average
Reviewed by Jesi Lea Ryan on Jun 15 2011

While the writing was beautiful and full of imagery, it wasn't the voice of a teenage girl. The varied reactions of her different family members was interesting...

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on Jun 01 2002

That Sebold is able to elicit sorrow, righteous anger, regret and, ultimately, hope through a narrative of events in a voice rarely raised above a peaceful whisper is a statement to the level of her artistry.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Tasha Robinson on Aug 19 2002

Beautifully written, consistently surprising, and utterly assured, The Lovely Bones makes re-creating half a dozen genres simultaneously look like an effortless afternoon's work.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones | See more reviews from AV Club

Entertainment Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Karen Valby on Jul 12 2002

One loud clang of a misstep temporarily ruins the mood. Without saying too much, expect a quick but unfortunate scene that inevitably calls to mind a certain movie moment between Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Swayze. But, like Susie said, heaven isn't perfect.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Christian Science Monitor

Good
Reviewed by Ron Charles on Nov 08 2009

The power of "Lovely Bones" flows from this voice, a voice at once charmingly adolescent and tragically mature. She cares for her parents and siblings beyond measure, but the cosmic distance between them gives her a perspective that resolves the blur of sentimentality or vengeance even when the pain she's describing makes you wince.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

London Review of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Rebecca Mead on Oct 17 2002

For all Sebold’s deftness, her novel plays into US culture’s saccharine sensibility about girls and violence, a sensibility that attends the appetite for horror and is inseparable from it.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Oprah.com

Good
Reviewed by Elaina Richardson on Dec 09 2009

...she has crafted a gripping tale of tragedy and grief that play themselves out in a family, in a community, and in the afterlife of the victim.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Austin Chronicle

Good
Reviewed by AMANDA EYRE WARD on Aug 09 2002

Most striking is Sebold's mastery of a teenager's voice, from such small details as Susie's Strawberry-Banana Kissing Potion to her completely believable thought processes. And when Susie notes of her family that "I knew they were meant to be there, the four of them together, alone," the emotional weight of the moment is almost unbearable.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

ReviewingtheEvidence.com

Above average
Reviewed by Caroline Pruett on Sep 01 2002

Although I got bogged down in the middle, I was glad that I read to the end of The Lovely Bones. The book left me with a feeling, transcending character and plot, that Alice Sebold really has something to say about grief and loss.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

After Ellen

Above average
Reviewed by Sarah Warn on May 03 2003

...a masterful novel that keeps your attention throughout. Sebold’s prose is sparing and detached...the result is that potentially horrific scenes become palatable, and the unwieldy, unmanageable grief experienced by Susie’s family is communicated through small, powerful moments.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by spow10 on May 26 2014

Susie Salmon represents all of us, facing hardships, growing mentally and emotionally—whether we’re ready for it or not. If you are looking for a page turner, a book that will get you thinking, The Lovely Bones is the perfect choice.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by Rene L., Plano on May 26 2014

The only poor aspect of this book, in my opinion, is the unsatisfactory ending. Otherwise, this 328-page novel is a good read and completely worth your while, each chapter leaving you with the desire to read on and never put the book down.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by twest2513 on May 26 2014

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone looking for an intelligent and sensitive read. Don’t start The Lovely Bones unless you can finish it in one sitting.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Below average
Reviewed by fredfred on May 25 2014

...the narrative is constantly leading the reader in different directions...The story seemingly never concludes and the ending leaves the reader wondering if there are pages missing. Therefore, I would not recommend the novel to others who are reading it for their leisure.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by cake♥ on May 25 2014

The Lovely Bones is a very enjoyable book to read. Every page is packed full of anticipation and there are no such thing as boring parts.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by cooolll333 on May 25 2014

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Lovely Bones because the book made me stay up on my toes the whole time. The book taught me that redemption may make the pain go away, but not forever, Love is the only way where we can always have true happiness.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by guelilam92 on May 25 2014

The Lovely Bones is a great novel for readers that enjoy tragedy, romance, and mystery because this book is a captivating mixture of all three.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by Lister on May 25 2014

Although The Lovely Bones has its faults, it would be a mistake to pass it up. How each character evolves in the face of grief and terror is both heart-breaking and heart-warming at once.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by s.robinette on May 25 2014

Never slowing its pace, this novel is sure to impress as well as pull on your heart strings and allow you to look at your family and view life in an entirely new light.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Bapalapa2 on May 25 2014

Readers will be blown away, likely unable to pry their eyes off the page as the vivid and compelling changes of Sebold's characters and intense plot unfold.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by JenniferChen on May 25 2014

This is simply a must read for anyone that has suffered a death that is close to them or anyone looking for an easy and compelling read.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by olivialee on May 25 2014

Because of the narrator was a fourteen years old girl, it was easy to understand the story. Most of the time, Alice Sebold used easy dictions and easy sentence structures as how a fourteen years old girl would talk. I highly recommend The Lovely Bones...

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Anna S. on May 25 2014

Susie moves on to find her loved ones in heaven, whilst her loved ones on earth move on with their lives. This is the heart wrenching, yet beautiful journey Sebold allows us to be a part of in her book. I would recommend The Lovely Bones to you all.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by amybkin on May 25 2014

Overall, I am impressed by Alice Sebold’s ability to write such a gripping novel. I respect her authentic voice throughout the story – she writes honestly.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
on May 25 2014

This is a fantastic book. I enjoyed every second of reading this. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about murder cases. I do advise you however, that the subject matter of this novel is graphic and may be a bit disturbing to certain readers.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Elizabeth B. on May 25 2014

This novel strikes me as an excellent book, because it describes the traits that nobody ever really thinks to admire. After the death of a loved one, most people pity the people who passed away and what a horrific way for them to go. Sebold makes it clear that it is much more difficult to still be living after such a tragic event.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Yahoo! Voices

Above average
Reviewed by Maylin Ramos on Jul 04 2011

The ending of the book was realistic, but not satisfying. I would have loved to see Mr. Harvey go to prison for life, or stuck in an insane asylum somewhere. If only Alice Sebold would have added a couple of chapters pertaining to the jury and his conviction.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Nicole R. Lang on Mar 21 2010

Although I do plan on watching the movie, it would be hard to top the amazing writing of Alice Sebold in the "Lovely Bones".

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Bobbi Johnson on Mar 08 2010

This was a well-written and lovely novel, it is beautifully tragic, with a really good ending that has quite a twist to it.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Yahoo! Voices

Above average
Reviewed by Stephanie Espiritu on Jan 13 2010

In my opinion The lovely Bones had a good plot and was suspenseful, but hard to understand in some places. I think that the author should have described the life of Mr. Harvey more; including the other characters in the book.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Carrie P on Jul 03 2009

What really made this book a huge hit for me, was not only because it was an engaging a page turner. What I really liked about it was how it was narrated from heaven. For those of us who believe in life after death, it is a comforting and interesting perspective that we may have the ability and choice to stay connected to those we have left behind.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Yahoo! Voices

Excellent
Reviewed by Christin Shullo on May 16 2008

This book is fabulous! The perspective is so unique and effective. The reader can't help but feel drawn into the story. Sebold deals with awful issues from such a stunning perspective.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Yahoo! Voices

Above average
Reviewed by Steven Tyler on Oct 26 2007

This story leaves the reader to experience an unexplored world, one that could only be imagined. After reading about this unthinkable reality in everyday life, ones views change dramatically. Lovely Bones hits close to home because anyone could fall victim to a story like this.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Curled Up

Excellent
Reviewed by Amanda Cuda on May 25 2014

That book received relatively little fanfare, but Bones is a breakout success, topping bestseller lists and garnering glowing reviews. It's not just hype. Sebold and her lovely, disturbing book are the real deal.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Reading Lark

Excellent
Reviewed by Andrea on Nov 18 2011

If you can make it past the difficult subject matter, which includes not only the murder of a teen, but also rape, then you will appreciate the efforts of Sebold. This is one of those books that will haunt you long after you have finished the last sentence.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Parental Book Reviews

Above average
on May 25 2014

I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes to read mysteries because even though the reader knows who killed Susie her family doesn’t. Also to anyone who likes to read sad books because this book is very sad.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

She Knows

Above average
Reviewed by SheKnows Editors on Dec 08 2009

While the basic premise of the novel – a murdered 14-year-old telling her woeful tale from heaven – has the potential to turn into a lengthy cliché drowned in sentiment, Sebold is a skilled novelist who is able to weave this story into an original and moving account.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Lit Lovers

Above average
Reviewed by Molly Lundquist on Jul 01 2008

Sebold's concerns have to do with acceptance, loving and letting go, and with the permeable barrier between the spiritual and physical worlds. There is much in this book that will make for wonderful discussions.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

http://www.booklore.co.uk

Good
Reviewed by Annett Grosser-Rogoff on May 25 2014

The story takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. There are moments of joy and laughter, tears to be cried, anger at the unfairness of life and fear of having to go through a similar loss.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

The Bibliobrat

Good
on Sep 18 2009

Sebold handles rape, murder, teenage sex, drugs, and adultery with tact and grace and with a tone and level of detail necessary for the plot of the book.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Confessions of a Bibliophile

Excellent
Reviewed by CAEDMONERIES on May 13 2012

This story is not sunshine and happiness, it is depressing and it is going to have an effect upon you.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

http://www.januarymagazine.com

Good
Reviewed by Tony Buchsbaum on Jul 01 2002

Everything we experience here is filtered through Susie's eyes and voice. In the end, it's not Susie herself but her family and friends, drawn so uniquely, that brings her so compellingly to life.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

The Relentless Pursuit Of Cold Shivers

Good
on Jan 16 2010

...Susie narrates like no other 14-year-old I know. Sometimes she sounds a bit like a teenager girl, but most of the time she sounds like a novelist you’d find in the literature section...But for a really interesting take on grief, family and death, this novel is well worth a look.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

http://www.bbc.co.uk

Good
Reviewed by Caroline Gilbert on Mar 01 2004

In theory, The Lovely Bones should be a deeply despairing novel. Yet miraculously, the voice of the dead Susie, the omniscient narrator, illuminates the tale.

Read Full Review of The Lovely Bones

Reader Rating for The Lovely Bones
75%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 5671 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review

Reader reviews & activity

User Review

Katrina Bernardo 18 Mar 2013

Rated the book as 3.5 out of 5

User Review

Michael Manley 20 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

Lauren Hortum

Lauren Hortum 7 Apr 2015

Has read the book