Paul Bittick

For 14-year-old Susie Salmon, life was short and unpredictable, but heaven was even stranger.

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. “

“The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold, exceeds the dry and repetitive storylines of most books. By engulfing the reader into the storyline almost immediately, it helps to peak interest into the book instead of having to wait until the second or third chapter to find out what is going on.

After Susie was brutally raped and murdered by her neighbor, the reader is forced to continue reading about her family’s trials and struggles from her point of view in heaven.

The author creates a plot and setting that excites the reader’s mind and senses into believing that they are right there with Susie in heaven, watching what she is observing and sharing in her heartbreak.

While the book is difficult to put down, it is also difficult at times to imagine heaven in an unhappy and lonely sense. Isn’t heaven supposed to be a happy place?

She misses her family, yearns for the day when they will come to be with her and she cries – all things many religious people will have a difficult time relating to since heaven is where sorrow and unhappiness are supposed to disappear.

As the family slowly begins to unravel after Susie’s disappearance, The Lovely Bones is a chilling reminder of what rape and murder can do to families. While there are many books on the shelves that can relate to this subject matter, the way in which Sebold went about writing it captures readers’ attention and brings their personal emotions into the lives of a fictional family.

Chapter after chapter new experiences await Susie. She watches through marriages, separations, deaths and family memories she will never be a part of.

As Susie sees everyone she knew continue on with their lives, she misses the moments she knew she would never experience. As her siblings get older, the memories and grief seem to disappear while at the same time still exist in a very real sense in their minds even if their physical actions do not show it.

While her father tries to uncover the truth about her murder, and he is certain he knows who killed his daughter, the town officials are slowly losing sight in what happened, discouraging her father even more.

It is a book that will bring tears, laughter, wonder, sorrow, anger and happiness all at the same time.

“The Lovely Bones” is also the book chosen for this years’ Preface program.

“Launched in 2002, Preface aims to enrich Cal Poly’s academic life across all disciplines and provide students with a common intellectual experience,” according to their Web site.

Incoming students are all encouraged to read the book before Week of Welcome(WOW) and are then given the opportunity to discuss the book in small groups.

For more information on Preface, visit www.preface.calpoly.edu.

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