The Enchanting Allure of “The Lovely Bones” by Joseph Misuraca

Posted on March 6, 2012

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I put down Alice Sebold’s 2002 debut novel, The Lovely Bones and was left wondering why this was such a magical read. I had viewed Peter Jackson’s 2009 movie adaptation and thought the critics’ comments were harsh. This is an underrated film and it is simply marvellous. I have been pondering the age-old question: what makes the written form of a text better than the filmic version of it? I have decided the characters’ emotion, personalities, what makes them who they are is better presented in a book. What is captured so wonderfully in The Lovely Bones are the characters’ reactions to Susie’s untimely death. The young protagonist is the narrator of her story’s post-mortem and the perspective from which Sebold writes is comparable to the third person omniscient point-of-view, hovering like a ghost from character to character, place to place and over eight odd years. Both book and film trace the lives of Susie’s relatives and friends and their quest to find her corpse and apprehend her murderer.

"The Lovely Bones" Movie Poster.

In Peter Jackson’s film, Saoirse Ronan plays Susie Salmon, the macho Mark Wahlberg and ravishing Rachel Weisz are her bereaved parents, Jack and Abigail Salmon. Susan Sarandon fits her role as an insouciant grandmother. The best performance is delivered by Stanley Tucci as the serial killer and mysterious neighbour, Mr. Harvey. His acting is flawless and chilling. Whilst the heaven is depicted with gaudy visual effects, the storyline is mangled and some segments are omitted, it is a touching adaptation.

The wonderful Stanley Tucci as Mr. Harvey.

On the other hand, Sebold’s novel is nearly perfect. There are passages which linger in my mind. The prose is sharp and the philosophical issues surrounding death and life are intriguing and encourage the reader to delve into introspection. The female characters, Susie, Abigail and Grandma Lynn are empowered, independent and inspiring. Mr. Harvey is pathetic and loathsome and appears to represent the hyper-normal and lonely, yet homicidal, sexually perverted and misogynistic man. Sebold may be shedding light on the monstrous nature of patriarchy and the violent repercussions it has on society. If it was not for Mr. Harvey’s bloodlust, Susie could have led the life she desired. It is elegiac and shows how peoples’ lives are forever changed by loss.

Joseph Misuraca is a You’re Dripping Egg contributor and a freelance writer. To enjoy more of Joseph’s work, check out his review of Never Let Me Go.

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Posted in: Books, Movies