Here's how this will (hopefully) work:
I'll start the discussion out with a few questions or topics for conversation. These may be my own opinions or questions, or they may be taken from somewhere else, in which case I'll specifically note where I got it from. When you comment, you can choose to either address one of those topics/questions, or just go off on a complete tangent of your own and say whatever you want pertaining to the book. Did you love it? Hate it? Read one chapter and give up? Have no interest in reading it at all? Whatever the case may be, I want to know why. Remember, my questions are really just a guide to keep the conversation going. If you have something completely different to add, go for it! As the conversation progresses, as I'm hoping it does, I would love it if you would check back within the following days, possibly commenting again addressing someone else's opinion. You know, like a conversation at a book club meeting.
Let the fun begin!
*Did you like the book? Why or why not?
At first, I loved it but I couldn't put into words why I loved it. Then, after more thought, I hated it but yet again couldn't quite say why I hated it. Ultimately, I decided I loved parts, yet despised others.
I found the first thirty or so pages describing Susie and her murder to be the most gripping passage I've read in my life. I couldn't put it down. After that, it was touch and go.
Even though I think it's sort of gimmicky, I love how the book is narrated by Susie from up in "her heaven." I love how she is almost all knowing and can watch everyone from her loved ones, to old friends, to even her murderer. I think this is a plot device that makes the book incredibly easy to read and enjoy.
I think what I disliked most about the story, was the way the various family members (and others) dealt with Susie's murder. I felt they were stereotypical. We have the grieving dad who remains devoted, the mom who loses it and runs off, the daughter who shuts down, the detective who gets too involved, and so on. It just seemed to me as if the author thought of all possible reactions to this horrendous incident and then assigned each one to a character. While I understand that everyone has their own way of dealing with things, it bugged me to see all those different ways in one book.
In the end, although it isn't my favorite book of all time, I enjoyed it.
*What are your thoughts about the way heaven is portrayed in the book? Do you believe in a heaven? If so, would you want "your heaven" to be like Susie's, where she can look down on all of her living relatives yet can't do much to change anything on earth? Do you have any thoughts on the fact that Susie's heaven appears to have no god?
Well, I think most of you know that I really don't believe in any type of heaven but if I did, I certainly would not want it to be like Susie's. I think the pain of watching my loved ones grieve would be more devastating than the pain from my actual death. I wouldn't want to long for my life that was cut short. Frankly, there was very little in Susie's heaven that I thought was all that happy.*Who was your favorite/least favorite character in the book?
This may sound bizarre but I completely loved Detective Len Fenerman and I thought he was the least cliched character in the book. I thought that his emotions and reactions to things were some of the most honest ones. Everything he did in the story fit in well with his personality. Even his affair with Susie's mom could be attributed to the fact that his own wife is deceased and he's spent his career trying to help and/or find women in danger.
I despised Susie's mother, Abigail, for running away from her family. While I can't even begin to imagine the grief someone in her position feels, I don't think that running away from the problem ever helps and I didn't find her a sympathetic character at all. Her family, her children especially, needed her. Abigail isn't to blame for not being able to see Susie grow up, but she is to blame for not being able to see her other children mature.
*What are your thoughts about Susie coming back to earth (in Ruth's body) and having sex with Ray Singh?
I thought it was weird and I didn't get it, but I did find it shocking. Although I found this book easy to read, there were times I thought that maybe I was missing or overlooking certain parts. That maybe some events in the book had more meaning than I was giving them. This was definitely one of those parts. I really hope some of you can enlighten me on this specific passage because I totally just thought it was out there. I don't understand why she came back and had sex. Does everyone in heaven get to come back at some point and do something they missed out on, or were the stars just aligned in her favor?
*What are your thoughts about the way Mr. Harvey died? Do you feel as if justice was served?
I wanted more closure, for myself and for all the living characters in the book. I was disappointed that I didn't get that, but I also understand how realistic this is.
Now, please share your thoughts!