ADVANTAGES

The Lovely Bones (2002) is American author Alice Sebold's first novel. The story is narrated by Susie Salmon, a fourteen-year-old girl who has been raped and killed by her serial killer neighbor in suburban Pennsylvania. That's right, Susie is telling her story from the afterlife. She weaves back and forth in time from the date of her death in 1973, remembering her life, peering into the mind of her killer, and watching the love ones she left behind. It's a gruesome and horrifying story, but also one of hope and renewal.

The Lovely Bones has sold millions of copies and is totally at home on the bestseller lists. A book buying frenzy ensued after winning author announced on The Today Show that The Lovely Bones was the must read book of summer 2002. Critics loved it, for the most part, and it's won A Bram Stoker Award, among others. , of Lord of the Rings fame, even directed the . Critics didn't really like the film (it got a ), complaining it's not dark enough and that the afterlife depicted is too fluffy. But was nominated for an Oscar for his terrifying portrayal of Susie's killer. And whether or not you agree with the movie's version of the afterlife, the film does a nice job of giving us some of the visuals that make the story so chilling and beautiful, and providing us with the mood and feel of the 1970s.

Sebold began writing The Lovely Bones around 1996 when she was 33, but had to put it down to write about a tragic event from her past – being raped by a stranger when she was eighteen. She says,

[…] after writing the first chapter of Lovely Bones, in which Susie is raped and killed, there was some urging on Susie's part that I get my own business out of the way before writing further into her story. When I say "on Susie's part" I mean: the demands of her wanting to tell her story and using me to do so meant that I had to unload my story someplace else. It wasn't going to fit into the book I wanted to write for her. ()

Sounds like Susie is a pretty bossy ghost. The result is Sebold's debut book, (1999), a well received piece of non-fiction about the rape and the aftermath, including Sebold testifying against her rapist in court, which sent him to prison.

Sebold studied with some literary legends, including and . She lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold, who says, "People who find living with a writer romantic often can't work with the reality. But Alice and I have complementary neuroses. If I look grumpy, she says, 'Is it the adverbs, dear?'" (). Of her dreams and goals, Sebold says, "I just want to write and read and walk my dog. You know, I'm very simple" ().

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