Monday, October 26, 2009

Read the Book Before You See the Movie!

December 11, 2009 is the release date for the film adaptation of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

I hope you've already read this novel, but if you haven't, I urge you to do so before you see the film.  When I went to see The Time Traveler's Wife in the theater, I got to see the trailer for The Lovely Bones, and surprisingly, the brief glimpses I did see seemed pretty spot on and true to the story.  However, two hours on the big screen can never capture the depth of emotion and insight found on the pages of this book.

I read The Lovely Bones about 7 years ago while at the beach with family.  I knew nothing about it when I picked it up at a bookstore-- it was the cover which captured my attention-- and I purchased it quite impulsively.  I took it back to the beach house that night.  I struggled through the first chapter, and upon finishing that first chapter at page 15, I had to put it away for a few days.

Here's the thing you might not know about me:  I hate to read or watch anything remotely scary, gruesome, suspenseful, or gory.  It took me years to read Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and that's a children's book.

The first chapter of The Lovely Bones is horrific.  It's especially horrific if you are a mother of a daughter, as I am.

The Lovely Bones is the story of Susie Salmon, a 14 year old girl who is murdered by a neighborhood pedophile in a cornfield.  (Don't be mad at me.  I didn't just spoil the book for you because all of this happens by page 15.)  The first chapter is easily the most disturbing first chapter I have ever read.  My imagination got the better of me, and that is why I had to put the book away for a bit.

I am here to tell you that I am so grateful that I had the guts to pick this book up again.

The Lovely Bones is truly a coming of age story-- with a twist.  The rest of the story follows Susie as she settles into heaven grieving her lost youth--she'll never fall in love with a boy, never learn to drive a car. As she processes all of this, she is also watching her family back on Earth struggle with her death in fractured and sad ways, then move past their grief and on with their changed lives, and also attempt to uncover the identity of who killed her.  A story which runs alongside Susie's slow acceptance of her death and her family's grief is that of the seriel killer who murdered her and the detective desperate to identify that person.

Like bones, we can be broken.  With time, broken bones knit together and heal.  They are never the same, however. The Lovely Bones is a profound and haunting story of hope and the beauty of life despite brokenness. It is about being transformed despite the darkness and sadness that can hide in our hearts as well as in the hearts of others.

I hope you'll read it.


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