Readers' Emotional Response to the fictional work The Lovely BonesHello, I'm writing a dissertation as part of Master's in Engligh Studies. I am using the The Lovely Bones as part of my assignment...

Readers' Emotional Response to the fictional work The Lovely Bones


I'm writing a dissertation as part of Master's in Engligh Studies. I am using the The Lovely Bones as part of my assignment and I would really appreciate hearing people's thoughts on the novel (be them positive or negative). Here a few key words/ideas to get the discussion going (though please feel free to suggest your own);

- favourite moments in the novel.

- moments that struck you as particularly emotional/powerful

- how heaven is represented.

- the ending of the novel

- the influence of the "fantastical" aspects of the novel (i.e. that it is written from the perspective of a dead girl in heaven, that Susie is able to swap bodies with Ruth). Did this effect your reading of the novel for the better or worse?

- in comparison to other similar fictional texts where NO element of the fantastical is employed, do you think The Lovely Bones is more or less emotionally powerful?

Thanks a lot, I look to forward to hearing people's response.

Expert Answers
creativethinking eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let me chime in with some tidbits in reference to your question starters...

*Favorite moments: I loved the section about the photograph of Suzie's mother... how she could tell from that facial expression that her mother was really a different person than she thought she knew. The writing in that passage was just so touching and described a complex situation in a nuanced way. I also liked the end--it was satisfying in an unexpected way.

*Emotional/powerful: The initial rape scene is just so terrifying and disgusting. I read the first chapter nonchalantly in a bookstore and it led me to purchase and devour the novel. My hatred (which was eventually laced with a weak pity) for the killer was so intense; I wanted nothing more than for him to be caught. This fueled my interaction with the book. But, hands down, the most heartbreaking, tears-streaming-down-the-face moment was when Suzie's father, overcome with grief, smashes the ships in bottles they made together.

*Representation of heaven/fantastical elements: I thought that Sebold did an outstanding job creating a story where the characters were absolutely believable, yet there were also supernatural/fantastical things that flashed in and out. This, for me, made the novel more than just a mystery to solve. Then again, I actively seek out books written in the magical realism genre. I don't get upset when something happens in a book that "can't happen." I subscribe to Tim O'Brien's idea of "story truth" creating a stronger emotional impact than reality. In fact, I feel like that's why we read in the first place. But that's just me.

I'd be interested to see the reaction of a reader who typically prefers all out realism...

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
There's a lot to your question. I will begin by commenting on my reaction to the book. I always like mysteries, but this one was unique. I think that the idea of following a mystery from the point of view of the victim's ghost adds new life to the genre. Personally, I found it refreshing even though I am normally not that interested in ghost stories.
Read the study guide:
The Lovely Bones

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question