The Lovely Bones is a 2002 novel by Alice Sebold. It is the story of a teenage girl who, after being raped and murdered, watches from her personal Heaven as her family and friends struggle to move on with their lives while she comes to terms with her own death.
On December 6, 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon takes her usual shortcut home from her school through a cornfield in Norristown, Pennsylvania. George Harvey, her 36-year-old neighbor who lives alone and builds doll houses for a living, persuades her to have a look at an underground den he has recently dug in the field. Once she enters, he rapes and murders her, then dismembers her body, putting her remains in a safe that he dumps in a sinkhole. Susie’s spirit flees toward her personal heaven, and in doing so, rushes past one of her classmates, social outcast Ruth Connors.
The Salmon family at first refuses to believe that Susie is dead, until a neighbor’s dog finds Susie’s elbow. The police talk to Harvey, finding him strange but seeing no reason to suspect him. Susie’s father, Jack, begins to suspect Harvey, a sentiment his surviving daughter Lindsey comes to share. Jack takes an extended leave from work. Meanwhile, another of Susie’s classmates, Ray Singh, who had a crush on Susie in school and had made plans to go out with her a few days before her murder, develops a relationship with Ruth, as they are drawn together by their connection with Susie.The novel portrays heaven as a very personal thing; each dead person existing in their own individualized version of heaven, sometimes sharing similar elements with other individuals, but not able to follow into the dissimilar areas of another person’s heaven. Because Susie’s character is narrating the story from her own personal heaven, there are some questions over the depiction of the afterlife.