Susie, the novel’s protagonist, is brutally raped and murdered by her neighbor, George Harvey, in the book’s first pages. On the way home from school one afternoon, Harvey encounters Susie in the cornfield that… read analysis of Susie Salmon
Susie’s father Jack delights in his role as a husband and father. Loving to the point of foolishness and at times dedicated to the point of madness, Jack is transformed by his grief in… read analysis of Jack Salmon
Jack Salmon gave his wife Abigail the nickname “Ocean Eyes” when they were still dating, and Susie, growing up, always assumed that the nickname referred to the color of Abigail’s irises. As Susie grows… read analysis of Abigail Salmon
Susie’s sister Lindsey is just one year younger than her, and Susie takes pride in being the eldest. When Susie’s life is cut short, however, she must accept the pain—and, occasionally, the joy—of watching her… read analysis of Lindsey Salmon
Abigail’s mother Lynn is loud and larger-than-life, and her appearances at the Salmon household, though rare, are always fraught. Though outlandish, superficial, and slightly self-absorbed, Grandma Lynn cares deeply for her daughter, Jack… read analysis of Grandma Lynn
Susie’s murderer is a solitary, strange man who lives in a green house just down the street from the Salmon family. His brutal rape and murder of Susie Salmon instantly paints him as the… read analysis of George Harvey
Detective Len Fenerman
The detective assigned to Susie’s case, Len Fenerman is a sensitive and well-meaning but often blind or irresponsible man whose feelings for Abigail often get in the way of his police-work. Len is at… read analysis of Detective Len Fenerman
One of Susie Salmon’s classmates. A rebel, a feminist, and a loner, Ruth Connors excels in art and poetry but her adult sensibilities often land her in trouble with her teachers. Susie and Ruth… read analysis of Ruth Connors
Susie’s junior-high sweetheart, Ray Singh’s English accent, Indian heritage, and serious smarts make him an outsider in the small city of Norristown, PA. He and Susie share just one kiss shortly before she is… read analysis of Ray Singh
Ray’s mother, Ruana, is a fierce and independent spirit. Her separate encounters with both Jack and Abigail charge their lives with meaning in the face of despair. She tells Jack that if her child… read analysis of Ruana Singh
Samuel’s older brother Hal is just as involved with and invested in the Salmons’ healing. He runs a bike shop on the edge of town, and, in the wake of Susie’s murder, he asks… read analysis of Hal Heckler
Susie’s intake counselor, guide, and mentor in heaven. A social worker in her life on Earth, Franny is a nurturer by nature, and helps Susie to understand both the mechanics of her heaven and… read analysis of Franny
Lindsey’s first boyfriend and eventual husband, Samuel Heckler is an unlikely boy-next-door who comes to be a constant and healing presence in the Salmon family. His love of old, broken things resonates with his desire to help Lindsey—and, indeed, the entire Salmon family—heal in the wake of Susie’s loss.
Susie’s roommate and best friend in heaven.
A friend of Buckley’s.
Susie’s best friend. Clarissa matured faster than Susie, wearing eye shadow and platform shoes and going steady with an older boy named Brian Nelson.
Clarissa’s boyfriend. When Jack Salmon comes upon Clarissa in the cornfield—first believing her to be George Harvey and then, in a fit of delusion, believing her to be Susie, Brian beats Jack into submission, causing him a knee injury that inhibit Jacks for the rest of his life.
A neighborhood kid often seen as a bad boy or a menace. George Harvey blames a spate of animal killings on Joe in order to cover up the fact that he himself has been killing animals in an attempt to stave off his desire to kill girls and women.
The principal of Susie’s junior high. He seems deeply affected by Susie’s murder, and organizes a memorial service for her at the local church.
Mr. and Mrs. Dewitt
A pair of teachers at Susie and Lindsey’s school. Mrs. Dewitt teaches English; Mr. Dewitt coaches soccer.
The local reverend.
A boy who attends a gifted students symposium and summer camp with Lindsey. He apparently had a crush on Susie while she was alive, and attempts to ask Lindsey several questions about what Susie was actually like.