The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is an original and ambitious examination of the nature of death, loss, grief, love, and hope. Sebold eschews convention by killing her protagonist Susie Salmon within the first few pages. I’m not spoiling anything by divulging that. What follows is an insightful, though-provoking, sometimes humorous, and often heartbreaking novel. Sebold explores how Susie’s family learns to cope with and carry the baggage of her violent unsolved murder as well as how Susie herself learns to navigate in the afterlife while she watches her family struggle. With prose that is often beautiful in its subtlety, the author speaks well for both the living and the dead. Even though it ends on a note that feels somehow uneven, the journey with the Salmon family is worth taking.