The Lovely Bones | Study Guide

Alice Sebold

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The Lovely Bones | Chapter 23 | Summary



Ray begins to review Ruth's journal, reading her descriptions of all the murders her second sight has allowed her discover. Escorted by Lindsey, Buckley, and his wife, Jack leaves the hospital. Susie watches them go and knows that the four of them have become an intact family unit.

Abigail steals up to Susie's old room and says, "I love you, Susie." Susie realizes how long she's waited to hear those words. She realizes as well that she has stopped yearning for her family with the same intensity.

The family gathers to celebrate Lindsey's engagement, Jack's recovery, and Abigail's return. Watching them, Susie is struck that although her death broke the family apart, they have grown together in a miraculous new way.

Ruana and Ray arrive, while Ruth is out walking in the cornfield; she will never be completely free of Susie, but that is by choice.

When Sam describes the house that he and Lindsey want to move into, Ray realizes that Ruth's father owns the house and has been planning to restore it.


Chapter 23 is both lighthearted and grave at the same time. Eight years earlier, Susie Salmon's murder tore her family apart. Now, they've formed into a new, healthy unit, and everyone realizes that they had to pass through a lot of pain to get there.

They're also more realistic about the demands life can put on people. Note that Lindsey doesn't ask Mrs. Salmon if she's going to stay. Instead, she says "Are you going to hurt him again?" Mrs. Salmon answers that she'll do everything she can to keep from hurting Mr. Salmon, "but no promises this time."

It's in this chapter that the reader finally learns the meaning of the book's title. "Lovely bones" have grown around the anguish of losing Susie. Susie's loved ones have bonded into a wonderful new structure—a "miraculous body."

It makes the situation even better when the house Samuel and Lindsey found turns out to belong to Ruth's father. Like Ray Singh and his mother, Ruth is part of the network of people drawn together by Susie's death. Like the Salmon family, the old house will be rebuilt to hold a new generation.

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