Once again I am behind the times, reading a book that everyone read years ago, and once again I am satisfied with the complexity that another great author was able to capture in a novel. Alice Sebold’s novel is about what it means to deal with tragedy, how a family is a house and the members its load-bearing walls, how the entire thing can come down so easily like a safe sitting on a sinkhole. And if you’ve read the book you know that I mean that literally—the safe-on-a-sinkhole part I mean. It is the way that Sebold wove in the beauty of tragedy, the rape and murder of a young suburban girl, that makes The Lovely Bones such a good read.
Though it is argued that books and films-based-on-books are two different entities, expressions of art by two extremely different people (in most cases), I couldn’t help myself—I just had to watch the movie again so that I could compare. In my opinion, the movie does a good job at capturing the characters, though to fit in the frame of the movie a lot of stuff was cut out. In the book, Susie watches her family members from her heaven as they grow old. Her sister gets pregnant, Ruth goes to live in New York, and Ray becomes a doctor. Near the end of the book, Susie takes over Ruth’s body and makes love to Ray. Of course in the film Susie takes over Ruth’s body, but they only share a kiss. I guess it was a little too taboo for her to have sex with an older Ray. It fits very well in the book—sex ruined her life, unwanted, uninvited sex with a monster, and sex set her free, an act of passion. Sebold seems to be implying that there are two sides of sex.