I remember reading this book about 10 years ago and it stayed with me for a long time. I came across it again recently.
I have been reminded how powerful it is. It starts with the brutal murder of 14-year old Susie Salmon, which thankfully is not dwelt on. As her parents, siblings and friends all face the awful truth in various ways, we see each of them in their raw grief and later methods of coping. At the same time, Susie is watching over them all as well as her killer, from her heaven. As time marches inevitably on, Susie comes to realise that the world as she knew it is changing, and her loved ones will all keep living their lives, never forgetting her, but able to move forwards.
You can see why it was a success. It raises questions many people have about heaven, how the dead view the living, and whether we can speak to the dead. It presents an idea of heaven that many people want to believe in – that heaven is what you make it, it has the people and things you want in it, and parts of it overlap with other people’s heavens.
It’s the type of book you can read in one long sitting, glued to what happens. It makes you think about justice, death, and life after death. It makes you ponder real grief and how families ever manage to get through such events.
I imagine it could be a great book for a book group, when you want to talk about things that really matter.