In the book The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold does a remarkable job of making her characters realistic to her readers. Sebold does this by telling the story through the eyes of the victim, Susie Salmon, who sees and knows everything about everyone around her. What is great about this book is that the reader is taken on an emotional journey with the grieving family and with Susie. Abigail, Susie’s mom, is a character who, I believe, portrays human weakness. She is the one character who refuses to deal with the fact that Susie is dead.
Abigail becomes distant. As a realization of what is happening to Abigail, Susie describes the picture she took of her mom sitting in the backyard, a mom who she does not recognize, and where she learns the true meaning of “ocean eyes”. Abigail does whatever she needs to do to get away from Susie’s death and her family’s reaction to the death. She does this first by having the affair with Len. Susie says that the affair is “calling her away from [Susie] and from her family and from her grief” (Sebold 196).
Abigail promises Lindsey that she will not leave, but does anyway and goes to California. This is typically human because there are those in the world who have a hard time with acceptance. The thing about her is that she hurts those around her and hurts herself as well. It is only when Susie’s dad is in hospital again that she is willing to face her emotions and come back into her family’s life. This is also a human response because, when faced with tragedy, there is a moment of disbelief and disillusionment where a person will do anything to be detached from feeling.
Abigail represents that extreme view of detachment, which keeps her from thinking about what she is doing to others. Susie’s dad is a character who represents many emotions towards Susie’s death. One is anger. This is the emotion that causes him to break all of the bottled ships that he worked on with Susie and to go out to the cornfield when he sees a strange light. He feels as though what happened to Susie was not fair and that she was taken from him prematurely.
This emotion is also fueled by the police department’s “non”-reaction to his feelings about Mr. Harvey. The next emotion that he feels is sadness. He sees Susie everywhere. He sees her in Lindsey and in Susie’s playing piece from Monopoly and in her room where he falls apart and cries on her bed. He feels loss. After Mr. Harvey leaves and a family moves into the house, he feels resentment that the family has an excess of girls while he is missing one of his. Years after her death, he still feels her absence and just wants her to be with him again.
Another response is comfort. This is one emotion that he feels only for a little while. This occurs on the anniversary of Susie’s death when “he realized [she] had been loved by people he didn’t even seem to recognize. His heart filled up. . . ” (Sebold 209). His response is human because he allows himself to feel what he feels when he feels it. Unlike Abigail, he lets his emotions get to him and deals with them as they come. That is a part life: dealing with things as they happen, one thing at a time.
The Lovely Bones is not a novel that deals with one emotion. Sebold deals with loneliness, pain, sadness, acceptance, remorse, and a whole plethora of other emotions that make this book interesting and easy to relate to for multiple audiences. This book explores the depths of human emotions that leave audiences with a w hole array of opinions, from disgust to fascination. The Lovely Bones is a novel that can be read multiple times with different discoveries each time and is worth every second.