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If you died at 14 and were looking down from heaven, what of your life would you remember? Would you remember the moment when you were about to experience your first kiss with someone? Why might this type of memory stick in your mind?
The serial killer, Mr. Harvey, has denied Susie a full life. Her life is cut off before she can experience all that teens experience. And in a full life, one hopefully has a love, perhaps a true love, or at least a momentary connection with someone. Susie is about fulfill a romantic and sexual moment with Ray Singh -- a first kiss -- and then the moment is ripped away, just as her life is. You can imagine that a girl from heaven looking back over her life, should she have any nostalgia, might feel some for "the kiss that never happened." (Others who live to full adulthood might remember a wedding ceremony, having children, etc...)
What is interesting about the moment that stops the kiss from happening? It's the chastisement of Ruth that interrupts Ray and Susie from kissing. Ruth is the girl whom Susie is spiritually connected to, and she is being criticized by the principal and the art teacher, for drawing honest pictures of real women, ones that might be a bit too "real" for middle and high schoolers to look at. (In other words, what master artists often do: draw from real life, even the naked body. But for these adults in the 1970s, this type of drawing by a teen is viewed as inappropriate.)
Note what Ruth is doing, what Ray and Susie are about to do, and what the serial killer does. All of these images and plot elements revolve around romance and the body and sexuality. In the case of Susie and Ray, something pure and romantic is about to occur. In the case of Ruth, something pure, borne out of curiosity, is about to be explored. But in the case of Mr. Harvey...he is an evildoer who perverts and exploits "the lovely bones." Ruth glorifies them. Ray and Susie glory in first love. The backdrop is the evil that Mr. Harvey has done. Yet, does Susie rise above the darkness? Does she transcend it? Do you think the book has a positive energy about it, about the power of humans to redeem the evil and suffering they endure?
Balance this memory with other memories that Susie holds dear. Where does it rank in the light of her other memories? If a person only has 14 years, what will a person take with them to the grave and beyond?
Good luck with your analysis.
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