A friend of mine mentioned this book to me in conversation a couple of weeks ago, and it has been in my mind ever since. I read it a few years ago, right after it hit all the bestseller lists, and it took me about three weeks to work my way through it-- not because it's so dense and difficult to understand but because the emotions are so powerful and painful and raw that I could only read about a chapter at a time. Anyway, after I read it, I put it on my keeper shelf and never looked at it again. For a romance reader, it's quite the downer. For a woman's fiction fan, it's pure brilliance.
So, after thinking about the book for about ten days, I finally picked it back up to re-read it, expecting to be able to work my way through it much more quickly the second time around. I mean, there are no surprises in the book anymore, right? I know how ninth grade Susie Salmon is raped and murdered by her next door neighbor. I know how she looks down from her version of Heaven on the people she left behind. I know how her family falls apart after her death and how her father figures out who the murderer is even though he can't prove it and how that eats away at him until he is a broken, devastated man.
I know all this, and yet the book has already reduced me to tears at least six times (remember, please, that I am not normally a crier). It has already kept me up at night, staring at the ceiling and imagining the horror of those Susie left behind. Maybe because I'm a parent with beautiful children at vulnerable ages, maybe because I've always been too empathetic for my own good, maybe because Alice Sebold is just that brilliant of a writer, I don't know. But this book has gotten inside me-- again-- in a way few ever have. I recommend it highly, though know going in that it will wring you emotionally dry.