The novel written in 2002 by Alice Sebold describes the life of a young girl who is brutally raped and murdered by a psychopath. She helplessly watches from heaven as her friends and family try to come to terms with this sad truth and she herself struggles to accept the fact. The book received critical acclaim and sold millions of copies worldwide. It was adapted into a film in 2010.
Susie Salmon, a teenage girl describes her horrors as she sees the murderer, Harvey, hides evidences and evades arrest, even though his behaviour remains suspicious but there’s no proof against it. She is powerless and can do nothing to send him to jail. The family falls apart, as her father misses her all the time, her mother cheats on her father and her sister takes all risks to gather verification against him. His little brother, who is too young to understand all this, wonders what death is.
The tale is gripping, powerful and makes for a brilliant read. The first half of the book is very strong, where it shuttles between mystery and a ghost story and the bond that forms between Jack, Susie’s father and Lindsey, her sister is very touching. While in heaven, Susie meets a bunch of other girls who were previously murdered by Harvey, each of them too young and innocent to face such an awful end. She replays the end in her mind, clueless about why such a thing would happen to her and being calm all the while.
The delicate writing and beautiful handling of the issue makes for a very enchanting read and your heart goes out to all the characters of the book and you feel the vulnerability and helplessness of the protagonist. The disturbing yet catching tale of events lingers in your mind effortlessly and it wouldn’t be fair to say that Sebold does not live up to the hype. The compelling, fractured incidents are heart wrenching and the description of the characters’ need for closure and peace has an underlying grief and anguish that is palpable.