The Lovely Bones and Lucky

I'm curious to see the new film directed by Peter Jackson based on Alice Sebold's novel, The Lovely Bones. The first review I read (NYT) was mixed, and it is a novel that would be interesting or difficult (depending on your point of view) to adapt for the screen.

In the story, a 14-year-old girl who has been murdered watches over her family. She is also watching the person who raped, murdered and dismembered her. It sounds grim as a novel or film in this holiday season. The novel wasn't as depressing as one might expect. There were parts that are quite happy, hopeful and humorous.

The girl watches and is both protective of her family - wanting healing and wanting revenge. She tracks the investigation. She moves to and from "heaven" and even returns briefly to life in the body of a classmate. If this all sounds too Ghost Whisperer for you, don't be put off. It sounds that way in the 50 words-or-less summary, but it did not feel that way in the reading.

"These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections — sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent — that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events my death brought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous lifeless body had been my life."   

Alice Sebold has three books published. The first that I read was her non-fiction account of when she was raped on the last day of school as a college freshman at Syracuse University.

A policeman investigating the case eventually tells her that a young woman had been murdered in the same place and so she should consider herself "lucky" - which Sebold uses as the book's title.

Lucky: A Memoir was a tough read. It starts right out with the rape itself, the physical and mental violence, and then takes us to her life before and after the incident, and finally to a courtroom.

Personally, I can't imagine laying out my life on paper in this kind of detail. After the rape, she becomes addicted to heroin. She reveals that the rape was her "first real sexual experience." And, though the book deals with rape as a social issue, it's her personal story that hit me in the face.

The Lovely Bones movie trailer

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