Wednesday, March 31, 2010
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."
So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her -- her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy. - taken from Amazon.com
The part in bold was the hook that caught my attention again as I browsed the book and magazine area at the local not-Walmart superstore. I was supposed to buy a replacement t-shirt (long story, but I didn't want to wear the shirt I wore to work that morning and couldn't just duck home to change). Instead of buying the t-shirt, I bought "The Lovely Bones", reasoning that I should have bought the book the last time I read.
The book is... powerful. I started reading after getting home from work yesterday evening, and I didn't put it down until 2AM, when I finished reading every last word. Although I already knew how the book ended - the sinkhole filled in without being emptied of its secrets - I couldn't stop myself from hoping as I turned the pages that somehow they'd find her remains.
The bad guy Alice drew... the disturbing thing is he was not overdone or over the top. You could easily imagine messed up people like that slipping through the cracks and living a normal life next door, despite all of the horrible things they have done all their life. And in fact, I immediately thought about predators in real life - such as the one over in California. People just saw him as the guy next door, son, and boyfriend until he got caught.
Where I found the book comforting and hopeful... it was Alice's perception of heaven, how those that die are healed and comforted. How it was a place where people met their lost loved ones again and lived on in a place where the slightest wish came true. The part where her dog finally died of old age and joined her in heaven... I cried.
Darn. I'm getting watery-eyed thinking about the scene right now.
Holiday lived a long pampered life and finally drifted off in sleep. Susie was worried he wouldn't recognize her as the little girl he slept with every night, but there he was walking into her heaven, sniffing, looking for her. When he saw her, his tail immediately started to wag. He almost knocked her over as he greeted her. It was a very small scene in a book of many scenes, but it made my day as a dog person who hopes to see all her boys in the afterlife.
The other thing I considered while struggling to sleep at least a couple hours last night after I shut the book -> The writing was absolutely brilliant.
If you took part in the First 25 Words contest over at Miss Snark's First Victim, then you need only take the example of books like this one for a solid hook. The part in bold up above is the first 20 words of the book.
It's funny, I've always thought that starting a book with an introduction line such as "My name is" is a bad thing. I'm not sure if it is considered a cliche or if it is just weak writing, but I've read in more than one place that it is a no-no.
But those first two lines hooked me twice.
Proof that there are always exceptions to every rule. :)
ETA - I wasn't going to mention this, but I can't resist the temptation. If you read that first 20 words of "The Lovely Bones" again, you might notice that there were three conspicuous 'was' occurrences; two in the same line no less!
1. Read at least ten new books
2. Write/Improve at least two new chapters in wip