The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Chapter 1
Written by Katlyn
Edited by Krystal

Susie Salmon was only fourteen when she died on December 6, 1973. Her murderer was a man by the name of Mr. Harvey, a neighbor who’s flowers Susie’s mother loved and father had talked to about fertilizer. Susie had taken a shortcut through the cornfields from her junior high when Mr. Harvey startled her. He’d built something nearby that he wanted to show her and calls her by her name. Looking back on it Susie assumed that her father must have told Mr. Harvey one of those embarrassing stories about how she had tried to pee on her younger sister after she’d been born. As it turned out, her father had not told him her name, for some days later he would give his condolences to Susie’s mother and ask what her name was.

Mr. Harvey said it would only take a minute, so Susie followed him through the field into his ‘hiding place’ nearby. Her curiosity got the better of her and he watched as she explored the place. Susie made note of her surroundings and how strange it was he had a mirror and shaving supplies down there, but her father simply said men like that were “a character.” Of course, by the time a dog brought home her elbow attached to a cornhusk it was clear that Mr. Harvey was no character.

Read the rest of this chapter summary HERE.

Memorable Quotes:

Susie: My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. (Page 5)

Susie: I chose it both because it expressed my contempt for my structured surroundings a la the classroom and because, not being some dopy quote from a rock group, I thought it marked me as a literary. (Page 5)

Susie: “I’m sort of cold, Mr. Harvey,” I said, “and my mom likes me home before dark.”
Mr. Harvey: “It’s after dark, Susie,” he said.
Susie: I wish now that I had known this was weird. I had never told him my name. (Page 7)

Mr. Salmon: “Spunk!” my father would say. “Let me tell you about spunk,” and he would launch immediately into his Susie-peed-on-Lindsey story. (Page 8)

Franny: “Like taking candy from a baby,” Franny said. (Page 10)

Susie: But I guess I figured that a man who had a perfectly good split-level and then built an underground room only half a mile away had to be kind of loo-loo. My father had a nice way of describing people like him: “The man’s a character, that’s all.” (Page 11)

Susie: Clarissa called his large eyes, with their half-closed lids, “freak-a-delic,” but he was nice and smart and helped me cheat on my algebra exam while pretending he hadn’t. He kissed me by my locker the day before we turned in out photos for the yearbook. When the yearbook came out at the end of the summer, I saw that under his picture he had answered the standard “My heart belongs to” with “Susie Salmon.” I guess he had had plans. (Page 14)

Mr. Harvey: “Tell me you love me,” he said.
Susie: Gently, I did.
The end came anyway.

Questions for discussion:

How strange is it to not only start a book with the protagonist’s murder, but also know who the killer is?

Why do you think Susie chooses to think about her family during her rape?

What type of setting or mood do you feel the author is evoking in this chapter?

Is there anything else you’d like to discuss with the book club?

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