Alice Sebold"s novel The lovely Bones marketed over a million copies when it to be released in 2002. This week, the book returns come the spotlight in a film adaptation by Peter Jackson, the manager of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The lover Bones centers ~ above the story of Susie Salmon, a 14-year-old girl looking down from heaven after her own rape and murder. Sebold is not an author to shy away from hard topics. Among the first lines of the novel would certainly qualify, in most stories, together a spoiler: "I to be fourteen once I to be murdered ~ above December 6, 1973." Susie clings to her earthly life if trying to expropriate her death, and also she narrates she story from past the grave, city hall her household struggle with grief and also her murderer evade detection.

You are watching: The real susie salmon 1973 story

This interview was originally broadcast July 10, 2002.

Excerpt: "The lover Bones"

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December 11, 200911:00 to be ET

Alice Sebold


The lover Bones by Alice Sebold Hardcover, 328 pages Little, Brown & firm List Price: $21.95
Chapter One

My surname was Salmon, prefer the fish; an initial name, Susie. I was fourteen as soon as I to be murdered ~ above December 6, 1973. In newspaper picture of lacking girls from the seventies, most looked prefer me: white girls through mousy brown hair. This was prior to kids of every races and also genders started appearing on milk cartons or in the everyday mail. It to be still back when people thought things favor that didn"t happen.

In my small high yearbook I had a quote from a Spanish poet my sister had actually turned me top top to, Juan Ramon Jimenez. That went favor this: "If they give you rule paper, create the other way." I made decision it both since it expressed my contempt because that my structured surroundings a la the classroom and because, no being some dopey quote indigenous a absent group, I assumed it significant me as literary. I was a member of the Chess Club and Chem Club and also burned everything I tried to make in Mrs. Delminico"s home ec class. My favourite teacher was Mr. Botte, who taught biology and liked to animate the frogs and crawfish we had actually to dissect by making them run in your waxed pans.

I wasn"t eliminated by Mr. Botte, through the way. Don"t think every human being you"re walk to fulfill in here is suspect. That"s the problem. You never ever know. Mr. Botte involved my memorial (as, may I add, did nearly the entire junior high school — i was never ever so popular) and cried fairly a bit. He had a sick kid. We all knew this, so as soon as he laugh at his own jokes, which to be rusty method before I had actually him, we laughed too, forcing the sometimes simply to make him happy. His daughter died a year and also a fifty percent after ns did. She had actually leukemia, however I never saw her in mine heaven.

My murderer was a guy from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and also my father speak to him once about fertilizer. My murderer thought in old-fashioned things choose eggshells and also coffee grounds, i beg your pardon he claimed his very own mother had used. My dad came home smiling, make jokes around how the man"s garden can be beautiful but it would stink to high heaven as soon as a warmth wave hit. Yet on December 6, 1973, it to be snowing, and also I took a faster way through the cornfield ago from the junior high. It was dark out since the job were much shorter in winter, and also I remember exactly how the broken cornstalks made mine walk much more difficult. The snow was fallout’s lightly, like a flurry of small hands, and also I was breathing through my nose till it was running so much that I had actually to open my mouth. Six feet from whereby Mr. Harvey stood, i stuck mine tongue the end to taste a snowflake.

"Don"t permit me startling you," Mr. Harvey said.

Of course, in a cornfield, in the dark, i was startled. After ns was dead i thought around how there had been the light odor of cologne in the air however that I had actually not to be paying attention, or believed it to be coming from among the dwellings up ahead.

"Mr. Harvey," i said.

"You"re the larger Salmon girl, right?"


"How are your folks?"

Although the eldest in my family and good at acing a science quiz, I had never feeling comfortable with adults. "Fine," i said. I was cold, however the natural authority the his age, and also the added fact the he to be a neighbor and also had talked to mine father around fertilizer, rooted me come the spot.

"I"ve built something ago here," that said. "Would you like to see?"

"I"m kind of cold, Mr. Harvey," ns said, "and my mommy likes me home prior to dark."

"It"s after ~ dark, Susie," he said.

I wish now that I had actually known this to be weird. I had actually never told him mine name. Ns guess I assumed my father had actually told him among the embarrassing anecdotes that saw just as love testaments come his children. Mine father to be the kind of dad who kept a nude photograph of you once you were three in the below bathroom, the one that guests would certainly use. That did this to my small sister, Lindsey, thank God. At the very least I to be spared the indignity. Yet he preferred to tell a story around how, as soon as Lindsey to be born, ns was so jealous that someday while he was on the phone in the various other room, I relocated down the couch — he could see me from whereby he stood — and also tried come pee on height of lindsey in she carrier. This story humiliated me every time he told it, to the minister of our church, to our neighbor Mrs. Stead, that was a therapist and whose take it on the he wanted to hear, and also to everyone who ever said "Susie has actually a the majority of spunk!" "Spunk!" my father would say. "Let me tell you around spunk," and he would launch automatically into his Susie-peed-on-Lindsey story.

But as it turned out, my father had actually not pointed out us to Mr. Harvey or told him the Susie-peed-on-Lindsey story.

Mr. Harvey would later on say these words to my mom when that ran right into her top top the street: "I heard around the horrible, dreadful tragedy. What was her daughter"s name, again?"

"Susie," my mommy said, bracing up under the load of it, a weight that she naively hoped could lighten someday, not discovering that that would only go on to hurt in new and varied means for the remainder of she life.

Mr. Harvey told her the usual: "I hope they get the bastard. I"m i m really sorry for her loss."

I remained in my heaven by the time, fitting my limbs together, and also couldn"t think his audacity.

"The man has no shame," I claimed to Franny, mine intake counselor.

"Exactly," she said, and also made her point as just as that.

There wasn"t a the majority of bullshit in mine heaven. Mr. Harvey said it would just take a minute, so I complied with him a small farther right into the cornfield, whereby fewer stalks were damaged off since no one provided it as a faster way to the junior high. My mom had actually told my infant brother, Buckley, that the corn in the field was inedible when he request why nobody from the neighborhood ate it. "The corn is for horses, no humans," she said. "Not dogs?" Buckley asked. "No," my mother answered. "Not dinosaurs?" Buckley asked. And also it went favor that.

"I"ve made a small hiding place," said Mr. Harvey. The stopped and turned come me.

"I don"t check out anything," i said. Ns was aware that Mr. Harvey to be looking at me strangely. I"d had older men look at me that way since I"d shed my baby fat, yet they generally didn"t lose their marbles end me when I to be wearing my imperial blue parka and also yellow elephant bell-bottoms. His glasses were tiny and round with gold frames, and also his eyes looked the end over them and at me.

"You have to be an ext observant, Susie," he said. I felt prefer observing my way out that there, yet I didn"t. Why didn"t I? Franny stated these inquiries were fruitless: "You didn"t and also that"s that. Don"t mull that over. That does no good. You"re dead and you have to accept it."

"Try again," Mr. Harvey said, and also he squatted down and knocked against the ground. "What"s that?" i asked. My ears were freezing. Ns wouldn"t stay the multicolored cap with the pompom and also jingle bells the my mother had made me one Christmas. I had shoved the in the bag of mine parka instead. I remember that ns went over and also stomped ~ above the ground near him. That felt harder even than frozen earth, which was pretty hard.

"It"s wood," Mr. Harvey said. "It keeps the enntrance gate from collapsing. Various other than the it"s every made the end of earth."

"What is it?" i asked. I was no longer cold or weirded the end by the look that had provided me. Ns was favor I was in scientific research class: ns was curious.

"Come and also see."

It to be awkward to acquire into, that much he admitted when we to be both inside the hole. Yet I to be so great by just how he had made a chimney the would attract smoke out if that ever chose to develop a fire the the awkwardness of getting in and out the the feet wasn"t also on mine mind. You could add to that that to escape wasn"t a principle I had any kind of real experience with. The worst I"d had actually to escape to be Artie, a strange-looking boy at college whose father was a mortician. He chosen to pretend that was transporting a needle full of embalming fluid around with him. On his notebooks the would draw needles spilling dark drips. "This is neato!" I said to Mr. Harvey. He could have been the hunchback that Notre Dame, whom we had read about in French class. Ns didn"t care. I fully reverted. Ns was my brother Buckley on our day-trip to the Museum of Natural history in new York, wherein he"d collapse in love v the substantial skeletons top top display. I hadn"t supplied the indigenous neato in public since elementary school.

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"Like taking candy from a baby," Franny said.