‘The Lovely Bones’ is a fictional novel written by Alice Sebold and published in 2002. The novel was an immediate success after it’s release and sold over one million copies and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year. It was also chosen as an official book club book for the ABC channel program Good Morning America.
The book was adapted to a major motion picture directed by Peter Jackson in 2010 and received and Academy Award Nomination.
In the novel, the main character, Susie Salmon is a fourteen-year-old girl who is murdered and raped by a serial killer called Mr. Harvey. After she is killed, Susie narrates the book from heaven where she watches her family struggle to move on and watches how they grow without her.
Susie regularly appears to her family in small ways to watch over them and also watches her killer as he goes on about his life unpunished.
Ultimately, in the end of the novel, Susie decides that she must let her family go as they have finally let her go and let them forget her.
Before she does, though, she watches as her killer is killed in an accident and the spirits of the women that he has murdered celebrate his death.
The book opens with a short epigraph in which the narrator, Susie Salmon, describes a snow globe that her father used to have when she was a child. The snow globe featured a penguin and Susie says that she used to worry that the penguin was all alone but her father would reassure her that the penguin lived a wonderful life because he was trapped inside of a perfect world.
Chapter one begins right away with Susie telling her name and the date of her murder—December 6th 1973. She tells us that her murderer was a man from her neighborhood that her parents had spoken to on occasion. His name is George Harvey and the day that she was murdered he startled her by calling out to her in the dark as she was walking home from school. He tells her that he built something and he wants her to come and see it. She attempts to say no but he persuades her and she agrees because she feels that she has to mind him as an adult.
Mr. Harvey reveals that he has built a small dugout underneath one of the cornfields by the school. As he leads Susie down into it, she notices that he is looking at her strangely. She has noticed other men have started doing this too since she has begun to mature. Inside the dugout is a small room with shelves and benches. Mr. Harvey has lined up various things along the shelves including shaving cream and a razor.
She feels that this is strange but assumes that it is just part of what makes Mr. Harvey quirky. She tells us that he is what her father would call “a character”.
Mr. Harvey insists that he has made the dugout for the neighborhood kids but Susie knows that this is a lie.
He begins to tell her that she is pretty. Susie begins to get uncomfortable and tries to leave. Mr. Harvey prevents her, blocking the exit, he tells her to take off her clothes so that he can make sure she is still a virgin.
Susie tries to fight him off but he eventually overpowers and undresses her. Mr. Harvey then rapes her. In shock, all Susie can think about is how her mother will be looking for her and how before this she had only ever kissed one boy, Ray Singh.
When he stops, Mr. Harvey gets a knife. Susie knows that he is going to kill her. Mr. Harvey asks her to tell him that she loves him. She does so but he kills her anyway.
In the beginning of the next chapter, Susie tells us about her first experiences in heaven. Her heaven has soccer goals and the high school she was set to attend the following year. At first she assumes that everyone that she sees in heaven has the same heaven as her but later she discovers that they just have some of the same elements as her heaven and that they are an infinite number of heavens for every person.
Susie meets a girl her age named Holly and the two become friends. She says that their heaven is one of simple pleasures and getting whatever they desire except for that one thing they truly want: the ability to grow up.
While Susie is in heaven she able to watch what is going on with her family and her body down on earth.
She sees the town searching for her and sees her father get a call from the detective working her case. Detective Len Fenerman tells her father, Jack that they have found one of Susie’s body parts.
Susie’s younger sister, Lindsay asks her father what the phone call was about. He hesitates, but then tells her the truth, that they found one of Susie’s body parts. Lindsay asks which body part although she knows that the answer will make her feel sick. Jack gets her a bowl to vomit in before telling her that their neighbors dog found Susie’s elbow. Upon hearing the news, Lindsay vomits.
The police begin to search for Susie’s body in the corn field. They discover the dugout and find that it has collapsed. When they dig it out again they are disappointed not to find Susie’s body but they do discover that the dirt contains much of her blood. Inside the dugout, the police also find a copy of the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.
One of the neighbors who is watching from behind the police tape confirms that both are books that are read at the school in the ninth grade (Susie’s grade).
The police inform Susie’s parents of this but, grief-stricken as they are they refuse to believe it.
Soon, the police also find some of Susie’s notes from school and a love letter written to her by Ray Singh.
Fourteen year-old Ray immediately becomes a suspect in Susie’s murder. However, the police quickly find that he has an alibi for the night that she was killed. He was busy speaking at a conference for his father who is a doctor.
Watching from heaven, Susie becomes frustrated that she cannot help lead the police to Mr. Harvey. She finds that she does not miss her family as much as she thought she would, because she can accept that she will never see them again. But she does miss her dog, Holiday.
Len Fenerman visits the Salmon family and tells Susie’s parents that there was enough blood found in the earth that the police now must work off of the assumption that Susie is dead. He also brings them a hat that was found. It was Susie’s hat that her mother made for her although she refused to wear it. Detective Fenerman apologetically tells the Salmon’s that the hat was used as a gag.
After the detective leaves, the Salmon’s try to comfort each other but are unsure how. Every family member recedes into their own private world of grief.
Susie has a much younger brother named Buckley who is a toddler. He stays with a family friend during this time.
Susie’s parents also decide to call her grandmother, Grandma Lynn and tell her of the news.
Fed up with her grief, Lindsay decides to return to school early. She is called into the principal’s office so that he can offer his condolences. Irritated, she snaps at him and asks what exactly she lost. In heaven, Susie remembers years earlier when Lindsay was tested and moved into a gifted and talented class and how ever since then she has felt pressured into living up to that label.
Susie notes that in her heaven there are lots of dogs running around and the oldest member of her heaven, Mrs. Bethel Utemeyer plays a duet every evening with herself on violin and Holly on the horn. Susie refers to it as her Evensong.
In the next chapter, Susie tells us about what happened right after she was killed. She says that after someone is killed, their soul escapes their body and flies away up to heaven. Sometimes the soul can touch a living person on the way out. She says that on her way to heaven she touched a girl named Ruth Conners who was in her class and standing in the school parking lot.
Ruth remembers this experience and finds herself somewhat disturbed by it. She tells her mother that she feels that it was like a dream but too real. Her mother assumes that she just has an overactive imagination.
Susie remembers when she was alive and she would regularly help her father with his hobby of building ships in a bottle. He called her his first mate.
On earth, Susie’s father lines up all the ships that they made together and smashes them. This hurts Susie and she accidentally casts her face into the shards of glass.
Jack then goes to Susie’s bedroom and means to destroy it in his rage and grief but only has the strength left to cry into her sheets. Buckley walks into the room and Jack holds Buckley and cries.
Susie looks down on Mr. Harvey from heaven and catches him in the process of hiding her body. He cuts her body into pieces and puts the pieces into a large bag. Mr. Harvey leaves the bag in his basement where it leaves a blood stain on the floor.
Susie thinks about how she wishes to know more about Mr. Harvey and the other girls that he has killed.
Mr. Harvey brings Susie’s body to a sinkhole and puts the bag that she is in inside of a heavy metal safe so that it will sink easily.
On the way home, he realizes that he still has Susie’s charm bracelet in his pocket. He stops at a construction site and throws the bracelet into a hole that will be made into a man made lake. Except for one charm, a Pennsylvania keystone charm with Susie’s initials. He also keep the knife which he used to kill Susie in his bedside table.
Mr. Harvey becomes interested in a special kind of outdoor tent built by a tribe in Mali. He attempts to build one in his backyard and while he is doing this, Jack sees him and comes over to help.
Jack becomes suspicious of Mr. Harvey when he finds that he cannot get specific answers from him about Susie’s death.
He calls Detective Fenerman to tell him of his suspicions. Detective Fenerman visits Mr. Harvey’s house to speak with him. Mr. Harvey is very charming and tells the detective that he is building the tent in honor of his dead wife, Leah. He says that he does so every year but that this is the first year that he has done it outside.
Mr. Harvey then suggests that another young man in the neighborhood, the Ellis boy may have been the one who killed Susie. He points out that the boy likes to kill small animals. Len admits that he already looked into the boy and he has an alibi.
After leaving, Len calls Jack to report what Mr. Harvey said. Jack says that he could have sworn that Mr. Harvey’s wife had been named Sophie. He writes the names ‘Sophie’ and ‘Leah’ in a book and Susie mentions that he is unknowingly listing the dead.
On Christmas, a boy named Samuel Heckler visits Lindsay. He is thirteen and is wearing a leather jacket. He tells Lindsay that he is also one of the gifted and talented students.
Buckley, unaware of his sister’s death, asks where she has been for the past few weeks. Jack distracts him by playing monopoly. However, Buckley continues to ask and Jack finally breaks down and gently tells him that Susie is dead and he won’t be seeing her again. Buckley is too young to understand this and is confused.
In the kitchen, Samuel gives Lindsay half of a heart necklace and kisses her. Susie watches from heaven and is overjoyed. This makes Susie think of her kiss with Ray Singh.
She also remembers how she comforted Ruth Conners after the other girl was reprimanded for a drawing she had done of a naked woman that was stolen and passed around the school. On earth, Ruth often skips class and visits the corn field where Susie was killed. One day Ray notices this and follows her. They sit together while they wait for the bus and begin to develop a friendship.
Jack travels to Ray’s house to speak with him about Susie. However, Ray is not home so Jack sits and talks with Ray’s mother, Ruana. He finds Ruana very comforting and warm. He tells her that he believes he knows who murdered his daughter and Ruana says that she knows that he will do what is right.
Meanwhile, Len visits the Salmon house again while Jack is away and Susie’s mother, Abigail must entertain him. He tells her that she reminds him of his dead wife who passed away shortly after they were married.
A few days later Grandma Lynn comes to town for Susie’s funeral. She is a bright, loud presence in the house that pleases Susie and begins to bring some happiness back into the Salmon’s lives. She insists on giving her daughter, Abigail a makeover and Lindsay pleads with her to teach her about makeup so that she can impress Samuel.
Susie’s funeral is held and Ray Singh does not attend, preferring to say goodbye to Susie by looking at a picture of her instead. He feels that Susie is still with him everyday and places the picture in a volume of Indian poetry that his mother uses to press flowers.
At the service, Grandma Lynn, who has been curious about the identity of the man that Jack feels is Susie’s killer, points out Mr. Harvey to Lindsay. Upon seeing Mr. Harvey, Lindsay faints. Mr. Harvey leaves the church quietly.
In heaven, Susie begins to wonder what other people’s heavens are like. She wonders why her grandparents are not there with her and wishes for a place where she has no memories of her life on earth. She is told that in order to achieve that she will have to stop watching what is happening on earth and learn to let her family go.
Lindsay and Samuel go to a gifted and talented symposium over the next summer. Unbeknownst to Lindsay, one of the challenges in the symposium is how to commit the perfect murder.
Susie says that in heaven, this game is played often. She always picks an icicle as her perfect weapon, because it would then melt away leaving no trace of how the victim died.
At the symposium, Lindsay loses her virginity to Samuel and Susie thinks about how Lindsay has now reached a place in life that Susie will never be able to go.
At the Salmon home, Jack considers how to find evidence of Mr. Harvey’s guilt. Abigail does not believe that Mr. Harvey is guilty and wishes to believe in what the police say instead.
Mr. Harvey, however, has not felt bothered about the police discovering his involvement in Susie’s murder for months. Every night before he goes to bed he counts the trophies he has collected from his victims over the years. They are small things, like a pair of glasses, the heel of a shoe and a small eraser in the shape of a cartoon character.
Mr. Harvey no longer remembers the names of his victims but Susie now knows them all. Susie also discovered that Mr. Harvey was in fact, the one who killed the small animals that the Ellis boy was accused of killing. Susie tries to rationalize that Mr. Harvey kills small animals sometimes in order to stop himself from killing a child.
In August, Len Fenerman visits the Salmon’s again to have a talk with Jack about his constant phone calls about Mr. Harvey.
During this conversation, Jack notices something pass between Len and Abigail.
That night Jack sees a light traveling out to the corn field and believes it is Mr. Harvey. He follows him with a baseball bat and accidentally knocks down another girl named Clarissa who is waiting to meet her boyfriend, Brian. Thinking that Clarissa is being attached, Brian hits Jack with the baseball bat putting him in the hospital.
Abigail and Lindsay rush to the hospital to see him, leaving Buckley with the family friend. Jack is still unconscious and Lindsay sits by his bedside and sings to him. Abigail calls Len and asks him to come to the hospital. When he does, the two smoke out on a balcony and eventually end up kissing.
Susie is not angry when she sees this. She notes that Abigail has a masters in English and many other accomplishments and she has always felt that she and her siblings prevented her mother from doing what she wanted to do with her life. She felt that her mother and Jack were happy before they had children, but after she was born she grew away from them while Jack grew closer to them.
After the incident in the corn field, Jack has to have surgery on his knees and takes a long time to recover. In the fall, Lindsay returns to school and is dismayed to find that her father is viewed in town as being crazy. Buckley starts kindergarten.
Jack notices that Abigail seems very distant to him now. Abigail realizes that, although she spends a lot of time thinking about Len, she is not in love with him and only wishes to use him to forget about her troubles.
Jack and Lindsay have a talk about Mr. Harvey and Lindsay asks why he hasn’t been arrested yet. Jack explains that it is not that simple, that they need to find evidence against him before he can be arrested. Lindsay suggests that they break into Mr. Harvey’s house and Jack forbids her from doing so. Lindsay agrees but secretly thinks her father needs someone to do this for him.
That November, Lindsay joins the soccer team at school and begins to train with them by running laps around the neighborhood. She watches Mr. Harvey’s house as she does this. One day she fakes a cramp and waits till the other students have moved on. She breaks into Mr. Harvey’s house through a window in his basement. Susie watches anxiously and realizes that all of Harvey’s victims are present in the house and watching, too.
Lindsay finds a sketchbook of Mr. Harvey’s containing a sketch of the dugout just as he is pulling into the driveway. She rips out the page and manages to escape out a window but Mr. Harvey sees her running from the house.
Lindsay races home and gives her father the sketch, telling him that she believes him now. Jack calls the police.
Spooked by Lindsay’s break in, Mr. Harvey hides the knife that he killed Susie with and all of the trophies from his victims—except Susie’s charm– burying them in a hole in the foundation of his basement. He calls the police and reports that his home has been broken into.
The police inform Jack that they responded to Mr. Harvey’s house and he let them search everything. They found him very agreeable and sincere. He explains that his drawing of the dugout is from the police’s descriptions of where Susie’s body was found and that he only drew it recently.
After the police leave, Mr. Harvey packs his things and leaves his house.
Many students and friends from around the neighborhood gather in the corn field to have a candlelight vigil to mark the anniversary of Susie’s death. The Salmon’s see the gathering and join except for Abigail who refuses.
The next summer Abigail leaves the family to live in New Hampshire. That fall Grandma Lynn calls and tells the family that she is coming to live with them for a while to help with the children. Jack realizes that he will have to let her sleep in Susie’s old room.
December of that year marks a year since Mr. Harvey disappeared and the police have found no sign of him. Most of the neighborhood now believes that he was Susie’s killer.
Len Fenerman has found an old coke bottle in the corn field that contains both Susie’s and Mr. Harvey’s fingerprints.
Abigail eventually moves to California to work in a winery. She sends her children postcards from her journey across the country however she finds that even getting away from her family did not help her escape her grief.
Ray Singh goes to Penn State for college and Susie worries that he is working too hard and not living enough. After graduating, Ruth moves to New York City.
Susie watches Mr. Harvey move around the country, staying on the run throughout the rest of the 1970’s.
In the early 80’s, Susie’s Pennsylvania keystone charm is found next to another body in Delaware. Len is contacted about this but decides not to call the Salmon’s as he wants the case to remain closed.
One night during Evensong, Holiday appears in Susie’s heaven. He has lived a long life on earth and died peacefully. He is so excited to see Susie that he knocks her over.
Lindsay and Samuel graduate from college together during a trip back home they are forced to pull over Samuel’s motorcycle because of a rainstorm and hole up in an abandoned house. Samuel likes the house so much that he decides to buy it. He also proposes to Lindsay and she says yes.
Back at the Salmon house, Jack worries about Lindsay and Samuel being late and broods over the penguin snow globe. Buckley, now thirteen, comforts his father.
Lindsay and Samuel run back home on foot to make sure that Jack is not worried. They tell Jack that they are going to get married and he is happy to hear it.
During the celebration, Buckley thinks that he sees Susie for a moment before she disappears.
A short while later, Buckley and his father have a fight about keeping Susie’s things after all these years. Buckley says that Jack acts like Susie was only his to mourn and in the confusion of the fight Jack thinks he hears a voice telling him to let go. Suddenly he realizes that he doesn’t feel well and is taken to the hospital with the signs of a heart attack.
Susie feels conflicted about watching her father in the hospital. She wishes for him to live, but also wants him to die so that she can see him again.
Buckley feels guilty for upsetting his father and pleads with Susie’s spirit not to let him die.
In heaven, Susie reaches an area that she has never seen before and meets her grandfather again. The two dance together with her standing on his feet as they did when she was a child. After the music stops, her grandfather leaves. Susie asks where he is going and he tells her that he is going somewhere that she will follow soon.
Abigail hears of Jack’s heart attack and returns to town. Lindsay, Samuel and Buckley pick her up at the airport. At first she does not recognize them, since it has been so long since she has seen them. Lindsay and Buckley are cold toward their mother, however Jack is happy to see her.
Jack and Abigail have a talk about Susie and both admit to seeing her everywhere they go. The two bond and share a kiss.
Len visits Jack in the hospital and gives him the keystone charm even though it is against the rules. He tells them that Mr. Harvey has been connected to more murders and Jack wants Susie’s case to be reopened. Abigail does not and she asks Len to leave.
Susie leaves them to go check in on Ray Singh. He and Ruth visit the town’s sinkhole as they heard it was going to be filled in by developers. Ruth thinks she shes Susie standing in the place where her body was dumped but before she can say anything Susie disappears.
Mr. Harvey revisits the neighborhood and when Ruth catches sight of him she believes that she sees his car filled with his victims and she faints.
At that same moment, Susie suddenly falls to earth. Susie somehow finds that she falls into and inhabits Ruth’s body. She opens her eyes and sees Ray looking at her, asking if she’s alright.
Susie gets used to being in Ruth’s body and asks Ray to kiss her. He does and she is very happy.
Susie asks Ray to take her to an abandoned bike shop where they make love for the first time. At one point, Ray calls her ‘Susie’ without seeming to notice. Ray points out a scar on Ruth’s body and Susie accidentally tells him in third person that it is from an accident that Ruth had. Ray is surprised to realize that she is not Ruth. Susie tells him that she has been watching him from heaven
The two talk about heaven for a while. Susie can feel herself starting to fade from Ruth’s body and tries to call her home. When she does, Buckley picks up but cannot hear her. She realizes that she is not in Ruth’s body anymore. Ruth is sprawled out over the desk she had been sitting at and Ray reenters the room and runs to Ruth’s side. She wakes up and Ray knows that Susie is gone.
The night Ray and Ruth spend the night together and talk about Susie.
Jack leaves the hospital and Lindsay, Abigail and Buckley accompany him. When they arrive home, Susie watches them as Lindsay asks her mother if she is going to hurt her father again. Abigail admits that she’s not making any promises this time but that she will try not to.
Samuel tells Abigail that he and Lindsay are getting married. Susie watches over her family and realizes how they have grown without her. Ray and Ruana Singh arrive to leave food for Jack and they are invited in to have dinner with the family. Jack feels that he will always have a special place in his heart for Ray as the boy loved his daughter.
Susie realizes that her family will not notice if she stops watching them.
It comes out at dinner that the abandoned house that Samuel and Lindsay want to buy is owned by Ruth’s father.
After this is revealed Susie leaves the room.
In the epilogue, we find what became of the family. Grandma Lynn passed away a few years later. Susie has not seen her in her heaven yet but she knows that she will some day. Lindsay and Samuel are married and Mr. Conners agrees to sell them the house if Samuel will work for him. Lindsay becomes a therapist and soon becomes pregnant. Jack is excited to be a grandfather. Lindsay names the girl Abigail Suzanne.
Abigail stays on at the house and she and Jack give all of the Susie and Grandma Lynn’s things away to Goodwill. They agree to tell each other whenever they are sad about Susie.
Ray becomes a doctor and he and Ruth remain friends.
One day Susie sees Mr. Harvey going into a diner. He begins to stalk a teenage girl and makes a plan in his head about how to kill her. However, the girl thinks he is creepy and walks away from him.
After she walks away an icicle falls from the diner’s roof, knocks Mr. Harvey off balance and into a ravine. His body is found four weeks later.
Back in the Salmon’s hometown, a couple finds a dirt-encrusted charm bracelet in an industrial lot that is being bulldozed. The woman sighs that the little girl that it belonged to is probably grown up now.
Susie thinks that she is almost grown up, but not quite. At the close of the story, she wishes her readers a long and happy life.
Susie Salmon – the main character of the story. A fourteen-year-old girl who is tragically killed by a serial killer and narrates what happens after this from heaven.
Susie is a cheerful, bright girl who, while often confused is usually not outwardly angry or sad.
Susie is our point of view character for the entirety of the novel, and we view the ensuing circumstances through her eyes. Although she is at peace with her death, she is frustrated that her murderer goes unpunished and that her death creates a rift in her family and her town that never fully heals.
Throughout the story, much of Susie’s narration is spent focusing on her family and comparatively little is spent on herself. This, is can be said, is a reflection of her giving personality and easy going nature.
Susie only mentions the events in heaven when something big is happening (when she sees Holiday again, when she meets her grandfather, etc.) as a result of this, the reader never gets a very clear view of what heaven is really like and Susie seems to feel that it is beyond words that could be used to describe it. This also signifies that perhaps time is meaningless in heaven and she does not feel that she can mark the passing of the days or months beyond earth.
Susie deeply misses her family and friends and longs to return to her life even as she accepts that she will not be able to. She relates that she is told many times by people in heaven that she will not be able to truly experience heaven until she stops watching her family and lets go of her earthly life. At the end of the novel we begin to see her doing this and as a result she begins to see more of heaven and greets relatives that she has lost.
More than anything, Susie wishes that she had been able to see the woman that she would have grown in to and grieves for the future that she lost. This longing causes her to return to earth in Ruth’s body without meaning to so that she can be intimate with Ray one last time. The story of The Lovely Bones is one of Susie’s grief and finally her acceptance of her own passing.
George Harvey – Susie’s killer. A middle-aged serial killer who has an unquenchable craving for murdering young women and girls. George has killed many women and has never been caught although he has been suspected before. He notes that usually when he starts to be suspected he packs up and leaves town as soon as possible. In this manner he has traveled all over the continental United States, murdering young women and hiding their bodies.
Mr. Harvey often thinks back to his bad childhood and the rough life that he had with his single mother, living on the road. He thinks that the two things he would never want to be are a child and a woman.
Harvey builds dollhouses and sometimes kills small animals to keep himself from killing girls but always finds himself straying back to his preferred prey again. He is a very careful man, who plans out his murders and disposes of the bodies immediately and cleanly. However, he does keep a small keepsake from every body that he uses to comfort himself when he is stressed. Susie notes often that the spirits of Harvey’s victims follow him where ever he goes.
When he eventually gets killed in an accident with an icicle it is implied that it was because Susie willed it to happen from heaven.
Jack Salmon – Susie’s father. A former lawyer who takes a permanent leave from his job shortly after Susie’s death, ostensibly so that he can grieve. In reality he wishes to devote his time to proving that it was Mr. Harvey that killed her. Although he is right in his supposition, he endangers himself and others in his quest and alienates his wife to the point that she ends up leaving him for a while.
However, his other daughter, Lindsay supports him in this and by the end of the novel, everyone agrees that Mr. Harvey was Susie’s killer.
Jack feels an enormous amount of guilt for failing to protect Susie when she needed him most. He becomes so consumed by his guilt that Buckley notes that he feels like Jack thinks that Susie’s death only affected him.
Jack takes over as both mother and father to Lindsay and Buckley and is presented in the novel as perhaps the most moral character for sticking by his family and believing that he can avenge his murdered daughter.
However, over the course of the book and his life he begins to move on a bit from Susie’s death and accept that she is gone. He reconnects with his wife and his surviving children and seems happier.
Lindsay Salmon – Susie’s younger sister. Lindsay is a bright girl who is put into the gifted and talented program at her school. She is very athletic and plays sports as well as being intelligent.
Lindsay is the only character to suffer in silence over Susie’s death and her never explicitly mentions in the novel how much her sister’s death upset her.
After Abigail leaves, Susie takes on somewhat of a mothering role in the house. She is presented as a contrast to Susie. Lindsay is forced to grow up too quickly while Susie is never allowed to grow up at all.
Because of this, Susie comes to good-naturedly envy her sister and wish that she could live the life that she leads.
She is the only character in the novel who does not see Susie’s spirit and rarely mentions that she feels that Susie is still with her. Her form of grief seems to be attempting to move on and accepting that Susie is gone.
Lindsay does believe that Mr. Harvey killed her sister, however, and she exhibits both incredible bravery and immaturity in breaking into the killer’s house and finding what evidence she can.
At the end of the novel, Lindsay has moved on and had a happy marriage and life. However, she shows her love and remembrance of her sister by naming her daughter after her.
Ray Singh – a fellow classmate of Susie’s and the boy that she had a crush on before her death. Ray was Susie’s first kiss. He often remembers her and grieves that he loved her. He is briefly a suspect in her murder but cleared quickly after he speaks to the police. In life, Susie finds Ray exotic and cultured as he has lived in India and London before moving to her town in Pennsylvania.
Susie often watches Ray and still obviously longs for him after her death. It is implied that he was perhaps her soul mate and that now that she is gone he can never truly stop thinking about her and wondering what could have been. Susie appears to Ray often throughout the story and her brief return to earth in Ruth’s body does not seem to surprise him. He is one of the more open characters to life after death. Susie and Ray’s intimacy during her return to earth provides closure for both of them and afterward he is able to move on.
Alice Sebold Biography
Alice Sebold was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1963. She moves to Philadelphia as a child and grew up in suburbs outside of the city. As a child, her father taught Spanish at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sebold graduated from Syracuse University where she studied writing. After this, she moved to Manhattan and worked as a waitress while pursuing a professional writing career. However, finding little success she eventually left Manhattan for Southern California where she went on to become the caretaker for an artist community.
Her first book, Lucky (1999) is a fictionalized account of a rape that she suffered while a college student. Sebold was able to testify against her rapist in court and he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. The title comes from a police officer who told her on the night of her rape that she was lucky to be alive.
Sebold’s second novel, ‘The Lovely Bones'(2002) began as a story about the rape and murder of a teenage girl called ‘Monsters’.
The book was an immediate success and made Sebold a household name.
Sebold’s third and most recent novel, ‘The Almost Moon’ (2007) takes a slightly different tack but still holds to Sebold’s unique, flowing writing style and dark themes. It is the story of an agoraphobic woman who spontaneously kills her mother.
Sebold has been the recipient of many awards including the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for Adult Fiction in 2003 and the Bram Stoker Award in 2002.
She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband, the author Glen David Gold.