The story of Susie Salmon, 14, raped and murdered by a neighbour in the cornfield behind her house. The only part of her ever recovered is her elbow - the rest buried in a safe in a sinkhole.
This book reminded me of Something Might Happen by Julie Myerson, which also deals with the murder of a child. Although with the Lovely Bones Susie tells her own story, describes her heaven and looks down on her family as it struggles to come to terms with her loss. Her younger brother who really doesn't understand what's happened, her sister who tries to protect their father, her mother who desperately wants to run and hide and forget her family exists. But it's the character of her father Jack that really brought this book to life for me.
He knows so clearly very early on who killed his daughter and the fact that the police just look on him as a wounded man (and later as a bit of a joke) and won't take him seriously makes you want to scream at them "But he knows and he's right". By the time they realise that Jack had it right all along the real murderer is long gone - to coninue on his career as a serial killer.
Susie also looks down on her first love and a girl with whom she created a strong bond as her soul left earth. Ray and Ruth make an unlikely couple, but form a strong friendship with Susie as it's base, as they both loved her in their own ways.
I became increasingly frustrated with Susie's mother Abigail, yes you could see her affair with the detective investigating Susie's death coming a mile away. But for her to up and leave her family - for years, only to return when Jack has a heart attack - it was too much. I guess she needed time to come to terms with what had happened and for Jack to finally move on, to accept that Susie was never coming home and no-one would be held accountable for it.
But he was though, wasn't he? I had to smile on the second to last page, Susie finally got her justice - good for her.