A 14-year-old girl in suburban 1970's Pennsylvania is murdered by her neighbor. She tells the story from the place between Heaven and Earth, showing the lives of the people around her and how they have changed all while attempting to get someone to find her lost body.
Susie Salmon of Norristown, Pennsylvania narrates a story that begins in 1973, when she was a typical fourteen year old in a loving family to which no bad things ever happened. That year, special things going on in her life were the beginning of her aspirations to become a wildlife photographer, and her burgeoning romantic feelings, seemingly reciprocated, for senior British transfer student Ray Singh. If she was not preoccupied with these thoughts, Susie believes she would have noticed or felt the creepiness of neighbor George Harvey, a serial killer of females of all ages who ends up murdering her. In telling the story, Susie does not remember the exact method of her death or where her body is located, which the authorities do not find but who have evidence that Susie is most-likely dead. She died without ever getting her first romantic kiss. Her mother, Abigail Salmon, is not dealing with her death well, keeping her bedroom as a sealed up memorial. Her father, Jack Salmon, cannot let go of ever finding out what happened to her, although he, along with their two other younger children, Lindsey and Buckley, feel like they can occasionally feel Susie's afterlife presence. Indeed, Susie, currently in-between heaven and Earth, is looking over her family, as well as Ray. Another neighborhood girl, Ruth Connors, who most deem weird, is also able to feel those in the hereafter, including Susie. However, another young female who Susie meets in her current location tells Susie that she must advance forward to the next step. But Susie seems somewhat determined to try and lead those that can feel her presence to the fact of George being her murderer, especially when his next potential victim seems to be Lindsey. If Susie is able to let go, she may learn that she and her fellow travelers have a higher purpose in needing to move forward.
Pedophile serial killer rapes and murders multiple children and escapes justice while the murdered children play happily in a place between Heaven and Earth and watch their families destroy themselves as they attempt to deal with the tragedy of their children's untimely deaths.
Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family - and her killer - from purgatory. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.
Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones, begins “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” The Lovely Bones is narrated by a suburban teen who has been brutally raped and murdered by a neighbor. After the police confirm Susie’s murder, her family struggles to cope with their loss and with the unanswered questions surrounding Susie’s death. Both of Susie’s parents withdraw into their own despair and become incapable of confronting the tragedy. Susie’s sister, Lindsey, deals with her own grief privately and maintains a stalwart image to the outside world. Buckley, the youngest of the Salmon children, is unable to comprehend the tragedy and spends much of his time with the family of a neighborhood friend. An acquaintance of Susie’s from school named Ruth befriends Susie’s boyfriend, Ray, who is a suspect in the murder, while Susie's “real” murderer continues to live a few houses down from the Salmon family, making sure to cover his tracks and appear to be as “normal” as the suburban world around him.
Susie’s family eventually grows apart when her mother moves away from their suburban home. Her sister continues to mature and experience adolescence despite her family’s disorder. Susie’s father eventually finds a way to reconnect with his son and daughter and resumes his life without his wife until he suffers a heart attack. The heart attack prompts Susie’s mother to return home and make amends with the family she abandoned. The lives of the Salmons continue together, each member returning to their memories of Susie in their own private ways. The novel ends with a couple finding Susie’s charm bracelet and speculating, “This little girl’s grown up by now.”