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Free Online Notes for The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold-Study Guide
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The following quotations are important at various points in the story: (The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold / Little, Brown and Company, Boston, New York, and London, 2002)

1) “Nothing is ever certain.” (p.21)

This mantra helped the family keep their sanity while they continued to hope Susie would come home.

2) “He wore his innocence like a comfortable old coat.” (p. 26)

This describes Mr. Harvey, the serial killer, who has killed and gotten away with it so often that he almost believes his own innocence.

3) “She had a stare that stretched to infinity. She was, in that moment, not my mother but something separate from me.” (p. 43)

This quote shows the reader the kind of woman Abigail Salmon is and how that will later impact on her decision to leave her family.

4) “I loved Ruth on those mornings . . . we were born to keep each other company. Odd girls who had found each other in the strangest way - in the shiver she had felt when I passed.” (p. 79)

Here Susie acknowledges the bond which has formed between her and Ruth, because her soul happened to touch Ruth as she passed to Heaven.

5) “Had my brother really seen me somehow, or he was he merely a little boy telling beautiful lies?” (p. 95)

Here we see Susie’s desperate need to have her family know she is watching over them.

6) “At fourteen, my sister sailed away from me into a place I’d never been. In the walls of my sex there was horror and blood, in the walls of hers there were windows.” (p. 125)

This is such a poignant comment from Susie, because it reflects one of the reasons why she can’t let go of Earth: she has died as a life unfulfilled.

7) “How to commit the perfect murder was an old game in heaven. I always chose the icicle: the weapon melts away.” (p. 125)

This quote shows how Susie is basically a very compassionate girl. She would choose the icicle, because it wouldn’t hurt anyone. Ironically, it’s the icicle that Susie uses to frighten Mr. Harvey into falling into the ravine where he dies.

8) “When the dead are done with the living, the living can go on to other things,“ Franny said. “What about the dead?“ I asked. “Where do we go?” (p. 145)

Here we see Franny’s advice to Susie, trying to help her find her Heaven. But Susie is unsure what to do or where she belongs.

9) “Murder had a blood red door on the other side of which was everything unimaginable to everyone.” (p. 206)

This quote sheds light on the most difficult part of being the family of a murdered child: no one wants to cross your door, because your tragedy is unimaginable.

10) “I had rescued the moment by using my camera and in that way had found how to stop time and hold it. No one could take that image away from me because I owned it.” (p. 213)

Here we see how important the photos have become not only to her family, but to Susie as well.

11) “I watched my beautiful sister running . . . and I knew she was not running away from me or toward me. Like someone who has survived a gut-shot, the wound had been closing, closing - braiding into a scar for eight long years.” (p. 242)

Susie observes how her sister has finally reached a point where her pain will soon be healed.

12) “Sometimes you cry, Susie, even when someone you love has been gone a long time.” (p.261)

Susie’s grandfather reveals that even in heaven, there are painful memories.

13) “My father could see shimmers, like colored flecks inside my mother’s eyes - things to hold on to.” (p. 270)

Susie’s father sees possibilities for the future with his wife in her “ocean eyes.”

14) “Stones and bones; snow and frost; seeds and beans and polliwogs. Paths and twigs, assorted kisses, We all know who Susie misses . . .” (p. 278)

Susie recites a poem her father always said to her when she was small. It comforts her now that she knows she will soon be able to let go of Earth.

15) “Last night it had been my father who had finally said it, ‘She’s never coming home.’ A clear and easy piece of truth that everyone who had ever known me had accepted. But he needed to say it, and she needed to hear him say it.” (p. 289)

For eight years, the family has been unable to admit what they have always known in their hearts: Susie was dead.

16) “These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections - sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent - that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous body had been my life.” (p. 320)

Susie explains how her death impacted the world while she was in it and how it has impacted the world without her. This is also the basis for the title of the novel.

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