illustration of Susie in the clouds with her charm bracelet above her head

The Lovely Bones

by Alice Sebold

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Student Question

In The Lovely Bones, how does Susie influence others while being absent?

Quick answer:

In The Lovely Bones, Susie affects people after her death by allowing them to feel that she is with them. In one case, she even allows her father to see her reflection in broken glass. She stays with her family in a spiritual sense until they have recovered from their grief.

Expert Answers

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Unfortunately, Susie can no longer be present in her family members’ lives, because she has been raped and murdered by their neighbour, Mr. Harvey. However, until her family has mourned her and learned to continue their lives without her, she not only watches over them, but makes her presence known at times.

The first person to be unknowingly affected by Susie after her death is Ruth Connors, a girl from her school. When Susie’s spirit left earth, it inadvertently brushed against Ruth, which forges a connection between the two.

When Susie’s father, Jack, gets into a fit of grief and smashes the collection of ships in bottles that the two of them had built together, Susie reveals herself to her father as a reflection in the shards of glass.

Weeks later, when her father and her murderer are working side by side on a project, Susie tries to send her father a message, but is not successful. In this moment, however, Jack feels Susie’s presence and starts to think that the man he is working with could know something about his daughter’s murder.

It is only more than a decade after her death, when all the members of Susie’s family have arrived at some form of peace, that Susie finally leaves her family and proceeds fully into the afterlife.

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