Pop-Culture | Posted by Julie Z on 01/6/2010
The Lovely Bones
I read the book The Lovely Bones a few years after it came out. I was about fourteen and I couldn’t remember having ever read a book where the protagonist reminded me so much of myself, or at least somebody with a voice I could relate to. The protagonist, Susie Salmon, was the same age as I was, but all the other fourteen year olds being portrayed in books that I had read were usually vapid (uh, The Clique books, anyone?). The character of Susie Salmon was smart, compassionate and observant.
She was also dead and spent the majority of the book watching the people she loved slowly self-destruct in the wake of her rape and murder and was dealing with the fact that her life ended just as it was even beginning.
Other than that, I found that I could really relate to Susie.
So when I heard they were making a movie of The Lovely Bones, I wondered who they would get to play the protagonist. When I heard it was Saoirse Ronan, I was pretty pumped. I saw her in Atonement and I feel confident that she will do this character justice. And that’s important, because as we know for every one ditzy girl depicted in teen fiction there are about ten represented in the movies.
Aside from a strong female protagonist (who happens to also be a teenager), I think this film has a lot to offer in the way of subject matter. Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones, was brutally raped as a freshman in college, which she wrote about in her memoir, Lucky, but also drew upon to write The Lovely Bones.
I think in this book Sebold really humanized the entire act of rape – really made people think about the act and the people who are involved in a deep way for the first time (that I’m aware of). Instead of rape being a later-dismissed plot line in some thriller, or something that happened to a virginal girl by an evil man to prove just how pure she was and just how evil he was, Sebold humanized both people involved – showed that this was wasn’t a stereotypical act in any way.
In the book, Susie, the “victim,” has a chance to completely develop her perspective and is allowed to tell her own story about the incident. The act is less about perpetuating a plot and enforcing stereotypical characterization, and more about really focusing on the emotional impact of rape on not only the victim’s life, but on everybody who loves her. We are also given a look into the rapist’s life, shown how somebody could act in such a way. Although he is never forgiven for the terrible crime, we are shown that he is not just a one sided monster, but a disturbed individual.
I really hope that the movie, which comes out on January 15th, captures all of this. Considering the cast — Susan Sarandon, Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci and of course Saoirse Ronan — I think they have a good chance at succeeding.
Lovely Bones Trailer
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