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The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (read by the author)

10.5 HOURS ON 9 CDs
The Lovely Bones
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If you like off-beat approaches to story telling, this is one for the books. Suzy Salmon, a 14-year-old girl who has been raped, killed and her body dismembered, tells her story from heaven. It is not the heaven one ordinarily thinks of -- with golden-winged angels -- but just a regular place like earth. As she watches her family and friends react to her murder, she can see and hear everything that it is taking place on earth. Surprisingly, she is not bitter about her death, but she expresses regret about some of the things she missed, wishing she could have lived long enough to have had sex. Although she feels sorrow for her family as they grieve for her, she does not condemn them for their actions. She does not seem to be shocked when she sees her mother having an affair with the detective who is investigating her case, and when her mother leaves her father, sister and brother to go to California to work at a winery Suzy does not love her less. As she watches from heaven, Suzy sees the impact her murder has not only on the family and friends she's left behind, but on the neighbor who killed her.

Alice Sebold takes a unique approach in her first novel. Because the main character is telling the story, we get the intimacy of a first person account, but because she is telling her story from heaven, we also get the benefit of having an omniscient observer. Sebold's prose is at times lyrical and poetic, as when Suzy describes heaven and her feelings about death, but it is crisp and precise when the teenage heroine speaks and acts like a typical teenager. As the reader of this audio version, Sebold gives the listener a Suzy who is winsome and thoughtful as she narrates her tragic circumstances. This sensitive book is even more moving because of the effective narration.

This is a book to be enjoyed on many levels. Aside from the interesting characters and the intriguing plot, there is the examination of the effects of a single event on the lives of many. Suzy continues to observe her family and friends for years after her murder and she's able, even in death, to bring about a surprising event that leads to an unexpected conclusion. This audio book, while dealing with the grim subject of a violent death is delightful, light listening and is perfect for a solitary listener or for an audio book discussion group.

John Mormon

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