Why I bought it? I had heard so many good things about it from friends and online. One day trawling for books I noticed it on the shelf and snagged it. It sat on my TBR pile for a long time before I actually felt I was up for reading it. I wish I'd read it sooner.
Synopsis: Susie Salmon is 14 when she is raped and murdered. (This happens in chapter 1, so I'm not spoiling the suspense.) She narrates from heaven the story of what happens after her death. The impact it has on her family. The investigation into what happened to her. The rumors among the kids at school. The killer's cover-up. And so much more.
What I thought? It was so well written and engrossing that I couldn't put it down. The uniqueness of Sebold's voice is compelling. I have never read anything like it before. The main character is dead by the end of the second sentence. Whatever your personal vision of heaven, you can enjoy Sebold's take on it in this novel--with roommates and counselors, etc. I was surprised at how uplifting it was. There were times of horror and grief as you would expect, but there were also moments of healing and transcendence and more hope than you would think possible. I loved it.
My rating: ***** out of 5
Cleanness Score: 7 out of 10, The first chapter is where most of this score comes from. The rape/murder is honest and horrifying--quite disturbing, but by the end of the first chapter (which is not very long) it is over and the rest of the book has a certain distance from it. There is some language, but not tons. It's not the sort of thing I would recommend to a teen without their parents' permission. It is a book written for adults. A lot of teens have read and loved it though. If you are concerned about letting your teen read it, read the first chapter and see. It doesn't get any worse than that.