"The Lovely Bones"
(Picador, Paperback, 1st edition, 2002, read: October 02)
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer.
This is Susie Salmon, speaking to us from heaven. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. There are counsellors to help newcomers to adjust, and friends to room with. Everything she wants appears as soon as she thinks of it - except the thing she wants most: to be back with the people she loved on earth.
From heaven, Susie watches. She sees her happy suburban family implode after her death, as each member tries to come to terms with the terrible loss. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet."
I heard so much about this book that I just had to read it. (Yes, I admit, I'm influenced by bestseller lists ;-).) And I just have to get in line with all the other people who praise it.
The story sounds brutal, and it is: A young girl is murdered by her neighbour, her body is never found. She observes from heaven how her family and friends deal with her death and get over it so that their life can go on. In the beginning Susie describes everything in great detail, later on in intervals of days, then only sporadically. Just how her family learns to go on Susie learns to let her family go.
Everyone who has ever lost a close person will recognize the different stages of mourning the family goes through. And one gets to know some things one might not have thought about when dealing with mourners.
The thought that there is a heaven where the dead look down on the living and observe everything is very catholic and may not be everybodys thing. But in this story it's a very comforting concept. The thought that later everyone has his or her own heaven which looks exactly the way that one is most comfortable is not such a bad idea. It might come worse...
You read the story literally with a crying and a laughing eye. It's so sad that it takes your breath away. But it's also written so beautifully and with such a dry humor that you can't get enough of it. I was surprised that there just were no dull parts in it. You never have to think "go on with it" or "cut it short" like in many other first-time novels.
A beautiful book you just have to recommend!
[Dorothée Büttgen, November 02]
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