December 14, 2009

The Lovely Bones

I want to read THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold. Everyone says I should. Especially now that the film is coming out.

It's sitting on my bookshelf.  I was lucky enough to find a paperback copy in excellent condition for 50 cents at a thrift store. 

I'm just not sure I should read it.

I have what many people consider an overactive imagination. I think the real problem, if it is a problem, is overabundant empathy. I can picture myself so vividly in other people's shoes, whether those shoes be real or fictional. I see all the horrific, minute details that the media glosses over.  I imagine how a tragedy might affect the main character's cousin or teacher or dog ten years down the road.

This lends to being a good character builder, a good observer, and hopefully a good writer, but it also means I am genuinely disturbed by instances of violence and cruelty that many people don't think twice about.

I've seen 4 or 5 horror movies in the last 10 years, and afterward I regretted watching each and every one of them. The only even remotely scary books I have ever read are ROSE MADDER by Stephen King and WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks.

WORLD WAR Z just happens to be one of my favorite books of all time. I read it last January upon the insistence of my friend Jobert and ended up loving it! The problem is, I had nightmares about zombies attacking me and my loved ones on a daily basis for 6 months afterward. Like Hannibal Lecter and a host of other horror movie monsters, zombies cannot be reasoned with or pleaded with.  You cannot buy them off or show them a picture of your family in an effort to convince them your life is worthwhile.

For a control freak like me, that's scary.

So why am I hesitant to read THE LOVELY BONES? Because of the graphic rape and murder of 14-year-old main character Susie Salmon.

Should I read it? Probably not. Not because it isn't good (I am quite sure it is), but because I know my heart, and if my heart can't handle zombies, imagine what THE LOVELY BONES will do to it. It doesn't matter that the scene in question is short or that it's at the beginning of the book. I haven't reread WORLD WAR Z for the same reason.  I just got those stupid zombies out of my dreams! I know the book will haunt me. That is not the question.

The question is whether reading a lovely, popular, well-written book is worth night terrors. There are consequences to everything, right?

Until I decide, the book sits patiently on the shelf...


Candice said...

I watched the movie Fourth House on the Left, or something like that, and the girl gets raped in the movie, and it looked so real, I had to turn my head. I am not easily affected by movies (I have been told I am desensitized..haha) but that scene was very traumatic. I read that when they make the movie for Lovely Bones, they are leaving the actual rape scene out because they did not feel the need to actually show the grotesqueness of it. So, maybe you could just watch the movie so you don't have to fully visualize that part.

HeatherK.Photos said...

The lovely bones is a great book.
the killing of susie is awful but the saddest part of the whole book is watching her family deal with the death
but it is amazing
I cannot wait to see the movie

Abby Stevens said...

I am very excited about the movie as well. Like Candice said above, I have heard Peter Jackson is not focusing the movie around the trauma of Susie's death but instead deals chiefly with her family's reaction over time (in the spirit of the book, apparently), so I think I will be fine with the movie.

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