Recently I saw a preview for a movie coming out soon called "The Lovely Bones." (note: I wrote this review before the movie came out, does that tell you how behind I am in posting reviews?) The premise intrigued me, It's the story of a teenage girl who is murdered, but instead of actually going on to some heaven and leaving earth totally behind, she finds herself in a place where she can create her own reality, and she finds herself watching her family on earth as they mourn. The movie caught my eye because it looks like a blend of a murder mystery and fantasy, and both are genre's that I love! My husband, however, was not interested in it in the slightest, so when I saw at the end of the preview that the movie is based off of a book, I decided to look it up!
"The Lovely Bones" is indeed about a teenage murder victim named Susie. While the movie preview implied that she was trapped in some sort of fantasy land between heaven and earth, in the book she is actually in heaven, although maybe not a heaven you or I would recognize. In her heaven she is able to create the world to reflect what she wants, her dreams, her ideals. Where those dreams over lap the dreams of others, she gets to interact, and she even ends up with a room mate!
Susie soon finds her attention drawn back towards earth, and realizes that she can watch her family, and anyone else she wants to. So she begins to eavesdrop on their lives, aching as she watches them mourn her, and worrying about them as they struggle through various things. Her Dad especially has been unable to let her go. He actually thinks that one of their neighbors might be her murder, despite the police saying there is no evidence, and only Susie knows he's right.
I found many things in this book fascinating. Susie was given the opportunity to get to know her family in an intimate way that most of us will never have. I love watching characters grow and change, and since we watched most of it from "heaven," it was done from a rather unique perspective.
There were some things that bothered me about this book though. I probably won't watch the movie in theater because of them, although if a friend wants to watch it on DVD I might watch it. The themes that bothered me were mainly sexual. I didn't mind the rape that accompanied the murder (although I skimmed over it) because I know that it's quite common for that to happen with murders, especially of young girls. What bothered me was when Susie watched, from heaven, her parents in some of their most intimate moments. Most of this book was voyeuristic, but that seemed to just be taking it too far.
It also bothered me as she watched her sister having her first sexual experience. That one bothered me not as much because she watched, but more because her sister was only 12 at the time, and the author wrote about it as if it's a perfectly normal and natural thing for a 12 year old to be doing. Now don't get me wrong, I'm fully accustomed to authors putting in sexual themes (and other things) that I don't necessarily agree with, but more often its simple promiscuity and I can often skip over it without really missing anything from the story. This was more insidious and central to the story, so it got on my nerves.