The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, the best selling novel of 2002, has been made into a movie. I don't know what I was doing in 2002, but I somehow missed this book. My wife recently suggested I should read The Lovely Bones. She reads more books that I, and often suggests I need to read such and such a book.
This is an unusual story that grabs you from the first few pages and does not let go until you finish. The basic story is about fourteen year old Susie Salmon who was raped and murdered in a corn field while taking a shortcut home from school. Yes, the book begins with a terrible tragedy, but the story of the aftermath is the true essence of this novel. The effect on her family, friends, neighbors, and community is beyond sorrow and grief.
Susie goes to a part of heaven that appears to be made especially for her, and continues to watch events on Earth as they unfold in the aftermath of her murder. This is not a religious novel in the sense that God is the main character in heaven, although it is certainly implied. Susies's heaven is magical, comfortable, and fluid. It keeps changing as she comes to terms with her death, and people she knew (those who died of course) find her there.
Let me give you a couple of examples of praise for this book.
"Savagely beautiful....A strange and compelling novel." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Mesmerizing....The Lovely Bones takes the stuff of neighborhood tragedy and turns it into literature." (New York times Book Review)
"Don't start The 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." (Christian Science Monitor)
In summary, I thought this was a wonderful book. Alice Sebold has given us a rare gift.