I keep seeing previews for the film version of this book. As I had borrowed it from a friend recently, I thought I might read it and see the film. SPOILER ALERT: I will most likely talk about plot points that you might not want to know about if you haven’t read the book.
I read the whole thing in one day. Granted, it’s all I did that day, but still…I’m kind of a slow reader. So Sebold captured me for the day, which is a good sign. Let’s talk about the first 3/4 of the book. I think the way the story is told – a hybrid 1st person limited/omnicient – was really interesting and worked for the book. The rape and murder scene was tremendous, lightly written but powerful nonetheless. The characters are wonderfully whole and real for the most part, except perhaps Holly, Susie’s heavenly companion, who kind of disappears. I didn’t understand her purpose fully. Even the dog Holiday was a real presence on the page. The story completely absorbed me.
Until I got to the endish bit… I truly expected Susie to break through and show everybody the sinkhole with the safe. I wanted vengeance. I wanted daddy to beat the snot out of Harvey and cut him up into teeny tiny pieces. Hell, forget vengeance, where was the justice? George Harvey, pedofile and murderer, dies from an icicle. In two sentences.
Can we talk about the whole “Ghost” moment when Susie and Ruth miraculously switch places? Really?? Seriously??? That set my Cheese-O-Meter off. The thought that spirits are watching Earth, fine. Susie’s spirit touching Ruth as she flies to heaven, also fine. But spirits wriggling into live people to have sex with their middle school crushes pushes me into the realm of ridiculous.
When I realized I wasn’t going to get what I wanted from the book, it made me a little huffy. I may have slammed the book shut and the end and literally said, “Humph.” I may also have stomped into the bathroom, muttering the whole way to Husband about how the end sucked.
Why would you get the family so close to answers and then snatch away the resolution of their pain? Well, I’m sure because that’s the sleight of hand from an author – the story is not about the dead girl, it’s about how a family copes with her death. It’s about how they learn to live and love and move along. But I am a huge fan of comeuppance and George Harvey didn’t get no comeuppance. I don’t care if he died (Husband points out that he died, that’s enough comeuppance) but that I wanted him to die horribly and painfully. Repent! Atone!
Alas, I will most likely see the film anyway. But it will be a matinee. Or maybe on-demand.