The Lovely Bones summary

The Lovely Bones Summary

In The Lovely Bones, Susie Salmon is raped and murdered by her neighbor, Mr. Harvey. No one suspects him of the crime but Susie's father and sister. Mr. Harvey leaves town to escape being caught, but Susie's family takes many years to recover from her death.

  • Susie continues to watch over her family as a ghost. She watches as the family falls apart, her mother leaving home and her father and sister struggling to prove that their neighbor, Mr. Harvey, is the murderer.

  • Lindsey breaks into Mr. Harvey's house looking for evidence. This prompts him to pack up and leave town to avoid getting caught. Later, he's killed when a sharp icicle falls on his head.

  • After many years, the members of Susie's family are finally able to put her death behind them. When they do, Susie finally leaves them and proceeds to the afterlife. 


Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones, begins “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” The Lovely Bones is narrated by a suburban teen who has been brutally raped and murdered by a neighbor. After the police confirm Susie’s murder, her family struggles to cope with their loss and with the unanswered questions surrounding Susie’s death. Both of Susie’s parents withdraw into their own despair and become incapable of confronting the tragedy. Susie’s sister, Lindsey, deals with her own grief privately and maintains a stalwart image to the outside world. Buckley, the youngest of the Salmon children, is unable to comprehend the tragedy and spends much of his time with the family of a neighborhood friend. An acquaintance of Susie’s from school named Ruth befriends Susie’s boyfriend, Ray, who is a suspect in the murder, while Susie's “real” murderer continues to live a few houses down from the Salmon family, making sure to cover his tracks and appear to be as “normal” as the suburban world around him.

Susie’s family eventually grows apart when her mother moves away from their suburban home. Her sister continues to mature and experience adolescence despite her family’s disorder. Susie’s father eventually finds a way to reconnect with his son and daughter and resumes his life without his wife until he suffers a heart attack. The heart attack prompts Susie’s mother to return home and make amends with the family she abandoned. The lives of the Salmons continue together, each member returning to their memories of Susie in their own private ways. The novel ends with a couple finding Susie’s charm bracelet and speculating, “This little girl’s grown up by now.”