This past week I read two books that were very similar in topic matter: The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold and Dear Zoe, by Philip Beard. Both books dealt with the death of a girl. In The Lovely Bones, it was Susie, a teenage girl who fell prey to a sick man who rapes and murders mostly teenagers, but sometimes older women. In Dear Zoe, the girl was a toddler named Zoe who was about the age of my youngest daughter, and probably the hardest of the two for me to deal with.
The Lovely Bones was surprising in a super natural sort of way. The brief glimpses of Susie in the human world, and her ultimate appearance near the end. The way the book was described to me, I was expecting more of her and her heaven, when in reality this is her telling of the story from heaven of the years after her death. I knew the healing aspect for her family would be there, and I counted on it from the beginning, because I would never put myself through a book like this without expecting something happy to end on.
Still yet, while in the end Susie felt released from her role on earth, I still was left with an bit of a melancholy feel about the whole thing. I think the biggest disappointment for me was that her murderer was never officially caught. While there was some vindication and resolve there – it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted him busted and shut away. Some resolution in the murder, thus a more rounded resolution in Susie’s family. I know I have made this sound like I was not enjoying the book, but that is not true either. I’m just telling you what I expected. This book was very lyrical in a way. The descriptions and feelings were powerful throughout the book, and probably very real. The emotions and all. This is a good book, if you can deal with the topic matter. It’s not real heavy or graphic on the crime itself, but the grief of the family is very real.
Dear Zoe was not near as emotional in it’s verse. It’s told from the perspective of Tess, the teenage sister of Zoe. She is distraught, to say the least, and not just because her baby sister is gone, but because she was the one responsible for her when the accident happened. She feels very much an outsider, since she is the daughter she suspects her mom didn’t mean to have, and her step dad is not really her dad, but then neither is her dad. There’s no where she feels like she belongs.
This book was particularly hard for me, because when the book described the actions of Zoe, I would imagine my daughter and her face and her smiles and it would just break my heart. So while the book itself had a very teenage quality about it, the writing, the content, etc. the grief portion of the book was very very difficult for me.