If have read this blog before, you may already be aware of my fascination with the writer Alice Sebold and her book The Lovely Bones. This book has sincerely affected my life over the years since I read it, and since I read her memoir, Lucky. I think I find it special and haunting at the same time. One, a fiction story about young girl taken from earth before her first kiss and a memoir about the author's real rape and almost death and her struggles to move on in life and feel worth.
What seems so awful to me and something I have carried with me for years was the idea that innocence can be taken from the innocent. As a young woman I was very naive and afraid of the world and felt subordinate to the people who took risks, had boyfriends and grew up. I thought that if I was the most innocent one, I could control how I felt and what I wanted to give away and what I wanted to keep. My ultimate fear was rape. Holding viriginity so close, I had even had those evil thoughts that I wanted to get it over with before someone TOOK it from me. That being a very dumb thought I know, I didn't act on it. I believed that one day it would feel right. Either by waiting until I was married or just feeling grown up enough to make the decision to let someone love me back and to be able to handle and accept the responsiblity and consequences that follow. \
I read this book when I was 17 or 18. My sister drove me to Barnes and Nobles and for some reason I heard about it and I needed to read it. I don't even remember if it was because I liked the cover of because I knew what it was about. The first chapter pretty much sets the tone.
"Name's Salmon. Like the fish. First name, Susie. and I was fourteen I was murdered."
Quite the opening line. It goes on to show a young girl, bursting with life and wishing to go to high school. one she'd never enter. Then you see the profile of a grismom neighbor who builds a fort underground, purely to lure her into it, to rape her and dismember her with a razor. Perfectly hidden below a cornfield. No one could hear her scream.
Now some might think, this is awful, I need to stop reading. But it's just in those words that make this murder real for the reader. You see from her perspecttive, the moment life leaves her. The moments no living person can know until they are theirs. After these moments, this book offers an IDEA of what the "in-between" and heaven are like. Susie couldn't go to heaven yet. She needed to help her family find her killer. It's not a suspense story really, mainly a story about a little girl who is robbed of life, robbed of the future she wanted, the very thing I was most afraid of as a child...to thave the possibility of love, success and family taken away from me.
I became so attached to Susie, like she saw something of a heaven I'd like to see. Sebold writes in a viceral tone, very real. No nonsese with wit and reality. I fell into the Lovely Bones and never fell out.
So this post is about how the MOVIE directed by Peter Jackson compares to the message and darkness of the book. The movie was sensational and yes like the reviews say it hits the surface of the message. They make it more about Susie helping her family cope communicating from the in-between and finding justice in the world that was turned upside down.
Saoirse Ronan played Susie and unagainst my former judgement before watching, she portrayed Susie hauntingly accurate. Besides that fact that her crystal blue eyes are so communicative, natural beauty, and her great work with Atonement, but she has become quite the ingenue. I was so impressed and happy with her performance because she became a more visual idea for me of who Susie was. Her voice lingered through narration and her gastly expressions gave way to an unbearable loss.
I heard somewhere, maybe on TV maybe somewhere else that you call a child who loses a parent, an orphan. A person who loses a spouse, a widow(er), but what do you call a parent who loses a child...maybe it's just too difficult and horrendous to even name or classify. Maybe it's just too awful to name at all.
Stanley Tucci is perfect as the antagonist, Mr. Harvey, Susie's murder. His nuance acting and perfection for subtlties made him extremely creepy and left him shrouded in a guilty, perverted context. He makes the sell with the movie, making it that much more threatening and suspenseful.
All in the all, the visuals were beautiful and I finally got an idea of what Susie's world was like, on earth and in heaven. The book definitely offers more detail, more wit and tone, as a book always does with words that a movie cannot. However I would recomment both. Read the book first then watch the movie. In that order, you will more get the idea and message that is present. Underlying sexuality, wnat and desire, all that is hidden in Jackson's film, along with the rape and murder that happen off-screen. It's a movie a family could see, however the book is way more harsh and I would offer it to High school and older. It's a tough subject to grasp. Such a heinous crime, premeditating a sexual assualt and murder of a beautiful young girl.
I always though as a child I would never be that dumb. I would never fall for an tricks. But when you're a kid, adults make you feel like you need to follow their rules. they are always right and in the 60's you did what your parents were told.
"this was before children started showing up on milk cartons, before the news spoke about missing kids, before anyone talked about things like this, thats didn't happen in neighorhoods like mine."*
"You don't notice the dead when they choose to leave you. It's like a whisper, or a wind of whisper undulating down. Like a woman in the back of the lecture who slips out when no one is looking."*
I was looking at the days after my death, Something things happened at great cost, somethings tenuous some wonderful, all happened after I was gone. I was beginning to see what the world was, without me in it"*
This book changed my life. I made momologues and theater pieces based on it. Ensemble work and criticim. Death affects everyone. At some point, innocence is lost. How do we cope? How do we protect out children, how do we let them grow up? How did we grow and change and what were the things that forces us to lose our innocence? Was it a choice or did it just happen? What is innocence? What is evil? What will be after we die? How will I recover from losing those around me?
Never ending questions. This books helps to see another light.
Thank you Alice for bringing your own rape and awful circumstance into a beautiful book of fiction that challenges and comforts the mind and soul.
*some quotes are paraphrased by memory