The Lovely Bones

Susie Salmon Character Analysis

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 connects her neighborhood to the junior high school, and lures her underground into a structure he has built specifically for the purpose of trapping, raping, and killing her, though he tells her at first that it is a hideout for neighborhood kids. After Susie’s death, she ascends to heaven—passing by her classmate Ruth Connors as she goes—and, for the rest of the novel, watches as her family deals with the fallout of her murder. Susie, in heaven, gains omniscience, but longs for her life on Earth—for the tangible lived experiences she watches everyone she has left behind continue to have. Over the years, Susie witnesses the dissolution—and the rekindling—of her parents’ marriage; the adventures of her younger sister Lindsey as she explores love, sex, and vengeance; the troubled youth of her baby brother, Buckley, who grows into adolescence in the shadow of his sister’s death; and the complex relationship between her junior-high classmates Ruth and Ray as they use one another to reckon with the gulf Susie has left in both of their lives. Susie’s arc ties in with all of the novel’s major themes: desire, family and community, love and sex, justice and injustice, and the alienating effects of tragedy. Susie’s journey towards acceptance of her own death takes years—she lingers in her own memories, in the memories of her family and friends, and in the vicarious act of constantly watching life on earth. Susie is a complex character whose feelings of injustice and anger at the brutality of her death and the shortness of her life are compounded by the fear that the impact of her loss is, with each year, lessening. As Susie grows to accept that she belongs, after all, only in her family’s hearts and memories, in her heaven she does the hard work of growing up which she lamented not being able to do on Earth. Susie is vital and full of life even in death—an oxymoron that allows her to, on occasion, “break through” and reveal herself to her friends and family members, climaxing in her brief return to Earth in the body of her high school classmate, Ruth, during which she fulfills her dream of having a positive sexual experience with her junior-high sweetheart, Ray. Susie is both young and old, wise and naïve, gifted with an eternal spirit but bound emotionally to the present by her love for her family and her desire to watch, and thus come to know intimately, the lives, dreams, loves, and failures of those she has left behind.

Susie Salmon Quotes in The Lovely Bones

The The Lovely Bones quotes below are all either spoken by Susie Salmon or refer to Susie Salmon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay edition of The Lovely Bones published in 2002.
Prologue Quotes

Inside the snow globe on my father’s desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, "Don't worry Susie; he has a nice life. He's trapped in a perfect world."

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Jack Salmon
Related Symbols: The Snow Globe
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 1 Quotes

My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer. My murderer believed in old-fashioned things like eggshells and coffee grounds, which he said his own mother had used. My father came home smiling, making jokes about how the man's garden might be beautiful but it would stink to high heaven once a heat wave hit.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Jack Salmon, Abigail Salmon, George Harvey
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 2 Quotes

Eventually I began to desire more. What I found strange was how much I desired to know what I had not known on Earth. I wanted to be allowed to grow up.

"People grow up by living," I said to Franny. "I want to live."

"That's out," she said.

"Can we at least watch the living?" asked Holly.

"You already do," she said.

"I think she means whole lives," I said, "from beginning to end, to see how they did it. To know the secrets. Then we can pretend better."

"You won't experience it," Franny clarified.

"Thank you, Brain Central," I said, but our heavens began to grow.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Franny (speaker), Holly (speaker)
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 3 Quotes

When the roll came back from the Kodak plant in a special heavy envelope, I could see the difference immediately. There was only one picture in which my mother was Abigail. It was that first one, the one taken of her unawares, the one captured before the click startled her into the mother of the birthday girl, owner of the happy dog, wife to the loving man, and mother again to another girl and a cherished boy. Homemaker. Gardener. Sunny neighbor. My mother's eyes were oceans, and inside them there was loss. I thought I had my whole life to understand them, but that was the only day I had. Once upon Earth I saw her as Abigail, and then I let it slip effortlessly back, my fascination held in check by wanting her to be that mother and envelop me as that mother.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Abigail Salmon
Related Symbols: Susie’s Photographs
Page Number: 43
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The bottles, all of them, lay broken on the floor, the sails and boat bodies strewn among them. He stood in the wreckage. It was then that, without knowing how, I revealed myself. In every piece of glass, in every shard and sliver, I cast my face. My father glanced down and around him, his eyes roving across the room. Wild. It was just for a second, and then I was gone. He was quiet for a moment, and then he laughed—a howl coming up from the bottom of his stomach. He laughed so loud and deep, I shook with it in my heaven.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Jack Salmon
Page Number: 46
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Chapter 10 Quotes

I did begin to wonder what the word heaven meant. I thought, if this were heaven, truly heaven, it would be where my grandparents lived. Where my father's father, my favorite of them all, would lift me up and dance with me. I would feel only joy and have no memory, no cornfield and no grave.

"You can have that," Franny said to me. "Plenty of people do."

"How do you make the switch?" I asked.

"It's not as easy as you might think," she said. "You have to stop desiring certain answers."

"I don't get it."

"If you stop asking why you were killed instead of someone else, stop investigating the vacuum left by your loss, stop wondering what everyone left on Earth is feeling," she said, "you can be free. Simply put, you have to give up on Earth."

This seemed impossible to me.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Franny
Page Number: 120
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Under a rowboat that was too old and worn to float, Lindsey lay down on the earth with Samuel Heckler, and he held her. Samuel's back was flush against the ground, and he brought my sister close in to his body to protect her from the dampness of the quick summer rain. Their breath began to heat the small space beneath the boat, and he could not stop it—his penis stiffened inside his jeans.

Lindsey reached her hand over.

"I'm sorry…” He began.

"I'm ready," my sister said.

At fourteen, my sister sailed away from me into a place I'd never been. In the walls of my sex there was horror and blood, in the walls of hers there were windows.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Lindsey Salmon (speaker), Samuel Heckler (speaker)
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 12 Quotes

And I watched that flat red mouth move across an invisible line that separated her from the rest of the world. She pulled Len in and kissed him on the mouth. He seemed to hesitate at first. His body tensed, telling him NO, but that NO became vague and cloudy, became air sucked into the intake fan of the humming hydrant beside them. She reached up and unbuttoned her raincoat. He placed his hand against the thin gauzy material of her summer gown… I knew what was happening. Her rage, her loss, her despair. The whole life lost tumbling out in an arc on that roof, clogging up her being. She needed Len to drive the dead daughter out. He pushed her back into the stucco surface of the wall as they kissed, and my mother held on to him as if on the other side of his kiss there could be a new life.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Abigail Salmon, Detective Len Fenerman
Page Number: 148, 152
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Chapter 16 Quotes

My neighbors and teachers, friends and family, circled an arbitrary spot not far from where I'd been killed. My father, sister and brother heard the singing again once they were outside. Everything in my father leaned and pitched toward the warmth and light. He wanted so badly to have me remembered in the minds and hearts of everyone. I knew something as I watched: almost everyone was saying goodbye to me. I was becoming one of many little-girl-losts. They would go back to their homes and put me to rest, a letter from the past never reopened or reread.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Jack Salmon, Lindsey Salmon, Buckley Salmon
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:
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Snapshots Quotes

[Ruth] had become convinced that she had a second sight that no one else had. She didn’t know what she would do with it, save taking copious notes for the future, but she had grown unafraid. The world she saw of dead women and children had become as real to her as the world in which she lived.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Ruth Connors
Page Number: 227-228
Explanation and Analysis:
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Years passed. The trees in our yard grew taller. I watched my family and my friends and neighbors, the teachers whom I'd had or imagined having, the high school I had dreamed about. As I sat in the gazebo I would pretend instead that I was sitting on the topmost branch of the maple under which my brother had swallowed a stick and still played hide-and-seek with Nate, or I would perch on the railing of a stairwell in New York and wait for Ruth to pass near. I would study with Ray. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway on a warm afternoon of salty air with my mother. But I would end each day with my father in his den. I would lay these photographs down in my mind, those gathered from my constant watching, and I could trace how one thing—my death—connected these images to a single source. No one could have predicted how my loss would change small moments on Earth. But I held on to those moments, hoarded them. None of them were lost as long as I was there watching.

Related Symbols: Susie’s Photographs
Page Number: 230-231
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Chapter 17 Quotes

At twenty-one Lindsey was many things I would never become, but I barely grieved this list anymore. Still, I roved where she roved. I collected my college diploma and rode on the back of Samuel's bike, clinging on to him with my arms wrapped around his waist, pressing into his back for warmth . . .

Okay, it was Lindsey. I realized that. But in watching her I found I could get lost more than with anyone else.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Lindsey Salmon, Samuel Heckler
Page Number: 232
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Chapter 18 Quotes

When her father mentioned the sinkhole on the phone, Ruth was in the walk-in closet that she rented on First Avenue. She twirled the phone's long black cord around her wrist and arm and gave short, clipped answers of acknowledgment. The old woman that rented her the closet liked to listen in, so Ruth tried not to talk much on the phone. Later, from the street, she would call home collect and plan a visit. She had known she would make a pilgrimage to see it before the developers closed it up. Her fascination with places like the sinkhole was a secret she kept, as was my murder and our meeting in the faculty parking lot.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Ruth Connors
Related Symbols: The Sinkhole
Page Number: 249
Explanation and Analysis:
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Above his bed the clock ticked off the minutes and I thought of the game Lindsey and I had played in the yard together: "he loves me/he loves me not" picked out on a daisy's petals. I could hear the clock casting my own two greatest wishes back to me in this same rhythm: "Die for me/don't die for me, die for me/don't die for me." I could not help myself, it seemed, as I tore at his weakening heart. If he died, I would have him forever. Was this so wrong to want?

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Jack Salmon, Lindsey Salmon, Buckley Salmon
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 19 Quotes

On the flight to Philadelphia, she sat alone in the middle of a row of three seats. She could not help but think of how, if she were a mother traveling, there would be two seats filled beside her. One for Lindsey. One for Buckley. But though she was, by definition, a mother, she had at some point ceased to be one too. She couldn't claim that right and privilege after missing more than half a decade of their lives. She now knew that being a mother was a calling, something plenty of young girls dreamed of being. But my mother had never had that dream, and she had been punished in the most horrible and unimaginable way for never having wanted me. I watched her on the plane, and I sent a wish into the clouds for her release. Her body grew heavy with the dread of what would come but in this heaviness was at least relief. The stewardess handed her a small blue pillow and for a little while she fell asleep.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Abigail Salmon, Lindsey Salmon, Buckley Salmon
Page Number: 266
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 20 Quotes

At some point, to counter the list of the dead, I had begun keeping my own list of the living. It was something I noticed Len Fenerman did too. When he was off duty he would note the young girls and elderly women and every other female in the rainbow in between and count them among the things that sustained him. That young girl in the mall whose pale legs had grown too long for her now-too-young dress and who had an aching vulnerability that went straight to both Len's and my own heart. Elderly women, wobbling with walkers, who insisted on dyeing their hair unnatural versions of the colors they had in youth. Middle-aged single mothers racing around in grocery stores while their children pulled bags of candy off the shelves. When I saw them, I took count. Living, breathing women. Sometimes I saw the wounded—those who had been beaten by husbands or raped by strangers, children raped by their fathers—and I would wish to intervene somehow.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Detective Len Fenerman
Page Number: 271-272
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 21 Quotes

While he scanned the windows of my old house and wondered where the other members of my family were—whether my father's leg still made him hobble—I saw the final vestiges of the animals and the women taking leave of Mr. Harvey’s house. They struggled forward together. He knew he could not outrace them. He sat in his car and prepared the last vestiges of the face he had been giving authorities for decades—the face of a bland man they might pity or despise but never blame. As the officer pulled alongside him, the women slipped in the [car] windows and the cats curled around his ankles.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), George Harvey
Page Number: 297-298
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 23 Quotes

As I watched my family sip champagne, I thought about how their lives trailed backward and forward from my death and then, I saw, as Samuel took the daring step of kissing Lindsey in a room full of family, became borne aloft away from it. These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections—sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent—that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous body had been my life.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Lindsey Salmon, Samuel Heckler
Page Number: 319-320
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And there she was again, alone and walking out in the cornfield while everyone else I cared for sat together in one room. She would always feel me and think of me. I could see that, but there was no longer anything I could do. Ruth had been a girl haunted and now she would be a woman haunted. First by accident and now by choice. All of it, the story of my life and death, was hers if she chose to tell it, even to one person at a time.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Ruth Connors
Page Number: 321
Explanation and Analysis:
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Bones Quotes

And in a small house five miles away was a man who held my mud-encrusted charm bracelet out to his wife.

"Look what I found at the old industrial park," he said. "A construction guy said they were bulldozing the whole lot. They're afraid of more sinkholes like that one that swallowed the cars."

His wife poured him some water from the sink as he fingered the tiny bike and the ballet shoe, the flower basket and the thimble. He held out the muddy bracelet as she set down his glass.

"This little girl's grown up by now," she said.

Almost.

Not quite.

I wish you all a long and happy life.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker)
Page Number: 328
Explanation and Analysis:
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Susie Salmon Character Timeline in The Lovely Bones

The timeline below shows where the character Susie Salmon appears in The Lovely Bones. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
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Susie Salmon recalls a snow globe that, in her childhood, always sat on her father’s desk.... (full context)
Chapter 1
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Susie Salmon, the novel’s narrator and protagonist, introduces herself to the reader, and states that she... (full context)
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On December 6, 1973, it is snowing, and Susie takes a shortcut home from school through the cornfield behind her junior high school. “Don’t... (full context)
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Mr. Harvey offers to show Susie something he has built in the cornfield. Susie, wary, tells Mr. Harvey that her mother... (full context)
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Susie reveals that in the weeks after her murder, Mr. Harvey will run into her mother... (full context)
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Back in the cornfield, Mr. Harvey promises Susie that what he has to show her will only take a minute. Susie follows him.... (full context)
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...explains that he has built a wooden trapdoor down into the earth. At this point, Susie is no longer weirded out: she is genuinely curious. Mr. Harvey opens the door and... (full context)
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Susie can still see the hole like it was yesterday, and, she says “it was; Life... (full context)
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By the time a neighbor’s dog finds Susie’s elbow three days later and brings it home with a “telling” corn husk attached, she... (full context)
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Mr. Harvey asks Susie if she would like a “refreshment,” which Susie thinks is an odd word to use.... (full context)
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Mr. Harvey asks Susie if she’s warm in the room, and instructs her to take off her parka. She... (full context)
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Susie pleads with Mr. Harvey, but he instructs her to take off her clothes, insisting he... (full context)
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Susie begins to struggle physically against Mr. Harvey, fighting as hard as she can, but nevertheless... (full context)
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Mr. Harvey begins kissing Susie, and she is revolted by his “blubbery” lips. Susie has already had her first real... (full context)
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Susie begs Mr. Harvey to stop, combining the words “please” and “don’t” futilely and repetitively, until... (full context)
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After Mr. Harvey finishes, he forces Susie to lie still beneath him and listen to their hearts beating together. Susie is shell-shocked,... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Susie says that when she first entered heaven, she thought that everyone around her saw exactly... (full context)
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Susie realizes after a few days in heaven that the shot-putters, soccer players, and other people... (full context)
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Franny, who is Susie and Holly’s intake counselor, guides them through their early days in heaven. Franny, in her... (full context)
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As Susie begins to desire more and more, she realizes that what she really wants is to... (full context)
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Susie and Holly set out to explore. Sometimes, Holly and Susie get separated when Holly goes... (full context)
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On December ninth, Jack Salmon, Susie’s father, takes a phone call from the police. The lead detective on the case, Len... (full context)
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The next morning, Jack pours a bottle of scotch down the sink. Lindsey, Susie’s younger sister, asks him why. Jack confesses that he is afraid he will drink the... (full context)
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Later that morning, Susie watches as the police rope off the cornfield and begin their search. The bad weather... (full context)
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The Salmons remain at home during the search. Buckley, Susie’s four-year-old brother, is over at a friend’s house—his parents have told him that Susie is... (full context)
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...it in school. She answers yes, and confirms that her child is in the ninth grade—Susie’s grade. The police cross-reference the woman’s knowledge of the ninth-grade syllabus with confirmation from Susie’s... (full context)
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Two days later, the police find Susie’s notes from biology class. Along with her class notes there is another piece of paper,... (full context)
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Watching all of this madness makes Susie crazy. She is miserable not to be able to steer the police towards Mr. Harvey’s... (full context)
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...Lindsey, and Abigail and reveals that the police have found yet another personal item of Susie’s. He holds up a plastic evidence bag with Susie’s hat inside, and upon seeing it,... (full context)
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...Len tells him that going forward, the police are now working under the assumption that Susie has been killed. Lindsey overhears this, but it is something that she has already known,... (full context)
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Susie watches as Lindsey sits alone in her room and works on numbing and “hardening” herself.... (full context)
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...Caden, flummoxed, apologizes again for Lindsey’s loss and excuses her from the office. That night, Susie watches as Lindsey does pushups, bicep curls, and breathing exercises alone in her room, focusing... (full context)
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Susie, in the main square of her heaven, watches from a gazebo—on Earth, she had always... (full context)
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In heaven, Susie finds herself desiring simple things and receiving them right away. Susie loves dogs, and so... (full context)
Chapter 3
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The oddest thing about looking down on Earth from heaven, Susie says, is the ability to see souls leaving bodies in real time and flying up... (full context)
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On Susie’s way up to heaven, she touched a girl named Ruth—a classmate of hers, though the... (full context)
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...express her feelings about the experience of being “passed by.” She also becomes obsessed with Susie, going through old yearbooks and cutting out anything that has to do with Susie. The... (full context)
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Susie watches her school friends day and night from her gazebo. The freedom to observe the... (full context)
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One night, after watching Ruth, Susie runs into Franny in the middle of the central square of her heaven. Susie is... (full context)
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Susie remembers the morning of her eleventh birthday. She woke up early and did not think... (full context)
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Abigail was not yet wearing lipstick, and Susie realized in that moment that her mother only put makeup on for other people. As... (full context)
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Back in the gazebo, Susie watches as Lindsey gets up in the middle of the night and creeps across the... (full context)
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The first time Susie “breaks through,” it is by accident—two days before Christmas, just weeks after her death. As... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Susie looks back on the hours after she was murdered, during which Mr. Harvey made moves... (full context)
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Susie says it would be some time before she understood what the reader has “undoubtedly already... (full context)
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At Susie’s Evensong in heaven, she watches all of her dogs lift their heads when they smell... (full context)
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Susie remembers watching Mr. Harvey take the sack full of her remains to a sinkhole on... (full context)
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...Harvey walked back to his car, he put his hand in his pocket and felt Susie’s silver charm bracelet. As he drove back into town, he stopped at an industrial park... (full context)
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Two days before Christmas—the day she appears to her father—Susie watches Mr. Harvey reading a book on the native people of Mali. As he reads... (full context)
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Jack, having just smashed all of his glass bottles and seen Susie’s face in the shards, is out for a walk to clear his head. He spots... (full context)
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...something. The two men hold each other’s eyes, and then turn back to work. As Susie watches the two of them finish up, the snow falls harder, and Susie feels despondent. (full context)
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...to go home. Mr. Harvey cannot think of anything to say, and instead whispers only “Susie.” Mr. Harvey points out that all of their neighbors have just seen the two of... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...get Harvey to open up and admit his guilt. He also writes that he thinks Susie is watching him, which makes Susie deeply excited. (full context)
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...returns home, and Jack is relieved to have some noise and company in the house. Susie momentarily resents her younger sister taking the attention away from her, but concedes that Lindsey... (full context)
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...day. Lindsey tells Jack that she wants to be alone, insisting that she is handling Susie’s death in her own way. Jack tells Lindsey that he understands, although he doesn’t, and... (full context)
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...Abigail “despise[s]” the word. When she finally emerges from the bathroom, Buckley asks her where Susie is. Jack, overhearing this, distracts Buckley by asking him if he wants to go to... (full context)
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...Len, Jack opens his notebook to write some things down. He writes “Leah? Sophie?” and Susie, observing from above, says that though Jack was unaware of it, “he had begun a... (full context)
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...are playing together. While Samuel and Lindsey converse in the kitchen, Buckley asks Jack where Susie is. Jack knows he has to explain Susie’s death to Buckley, and uses one of... (full context)
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...a heart. Samuel reveals that he is wearing a necklace which bears the other half. Susie watches excitedly as her sister kisses Samuel, and feels “almost alive again.” (full context)
Chapter 6
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Two weeks before Susie’s death, she leaves the house later than usual one morning, and arrives late to school.... (full context)
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Ray invites Susie to climb up on the scaffolding with him—he is cutting class. Susie does not want... (full context)
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...warn Ruth against making “unnecessary additions” in the future. The teachers leave the auditorium, and Susie and Ray overhear Ruth Connors crying. (full context)
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Susie attempts to climb down quietly off the scaffold, but Ruth sees her, and calls her... (full context)
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Weeks later, after Susie’s death and the ensuing police search through the cornfield, Ruth begins walking through the field... (full context)
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Ray, who has been coming and going from school without lingering in the weeks since Susie’s death, due to the rumors still swirling about him, has often seen Ruth Connors walking... (full context)
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...to assure her that he means Ray no harm. Ruana tells Jack that Ray “loved” Susie, and Jack tells Ruana that he is happy that a nice boy like Ray cared... (full context)
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...that after talking to Ray first, she will allow Jack to talk with him about Susie. As Jack and Ruana wait in relative silence, Jack thinks about his own family, and... (full context)
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Jack tells Ruana that he knows who killed Susie. She asks if he’s informed the police, but he tells her that the police have... (full context)
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Susie describes Len Fenerman, who is “different from the rest of the force.” He is small,... (full context)
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Susie reveals that Len Fenerman keeps a stack of photos in his wallet of the victims... (full context)
 Chapter 7
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As Nate and Buckley climb the stairs, Buckley asks Nate if he can see Susie at the top of the stairs—Buckley explains that Susie was gone for a while, but... (full context)
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Buckley tells Nate that Susie came in and kissed him on the cheek last night while he slept. Nate asks... (full context)
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Susie explains that a year earlier, when he was three, Buckley swallowed the twig while playing... (full context)
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...his parents’ eyes had gone from worried to calm, whereas now, in the wake of Susie’s disappearance, their eyes seem perpetually flat. (full context)
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Up in heaven, Susie feels faint. She falls asleep in the gazebo, and when she wakes, there is a... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Susie describes Mr. Harvey’s nightly dreams of buildings in the three months following her murder. He... (full context)
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Susie can see the whole of Mr. Harvey’s life, all the way back to his childhood.... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Grandma Lynn arrives in Norristown the evening before Susie’s memorial. Grandma Lynn always hires a limousine from the airport, and drinks champagne in the... (full context)
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Without her coat, Grandma Lynn is thin and “starved down.” She used to constantly tell Susie and Lindsey that they, too, needed to starve themselves down, and offered them diet pills... (full context)
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The morning of Susie’s memorial, Lindsey sneaks into Susie’s room to steal one of her dresses to wear. She... (full context)
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That morning, Jack woke up with a hangover. Though the days since Susie’s death have all been miserable, the idea of a day devoted entirely to mourning her—not... (full context)
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...Dewitt. Mrs. Dewitt, the English teacher, recently had Ruth turn in a poem all about Susie, and she plans to take it to the guidance counselor on Monday. Ruth notices Lindsey,... (full context)
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Ray Singh does not attend Susie’s memorial. He says goodbye to Susie in his own way, by staring at a photograph... (full context)
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At the service, everyone says nice things about Susie—Principal Caden, Mrs. Dewitt, and the Reverend Strick all speak—but Jack and Abigail sit numbly through... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...with. Meanwhile, the lonely Ruth writes obsessively in her journal about Lindsey and Samuel’s relationship. Susie notes that Ruth writes everything down—her experience of having Susie’s soul pass by her, her... (full context)
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Susie, meanwhile, has spent less of her time in heaven watching from the gazebo, as she... (full context)
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Word spreads quickly through the symposium: Lindsey’s sister is Susie Salmon, the dead girl. Children chatter about how being stabbed to death is “cool,” and... (full context)
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...the boat, Samuel becomes aroused, and Lindsey announces that she is ready to have sex. Susie watches, with admiration and jealousy, as Lindsey loses her virginity. In the walls of her... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...Mr. Harvey’s house. It is late summer, and still there has been no movement on Susie’s case. Jack cannot stop Ruana’s words from echoing in his head, though he has not... (full context)
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From heaven, Susie remarks on how her house and Mr. Harvey’s house have the exact same layout. But... (full context)
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...heel of a shoe. He has forgotten the names of some of his victims, but Susie knows them all. (full context)
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...there, as no light gets out and alerts the neighbors to his uncommon patterns. As Susie follows Mr. Harvey down to the basement each night, she learns something terrible: Harvey is... (full context)
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...he needs to stop making calls about Harvey—there is no evidence to connect him to Susie’s death. Lindsey hovers in the doorway, listening to everything. Len insists that though odd, Harvey... (full context)
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...help.” In a moment of delusion, Jack rushes up against Clarissa, believing her to be Susie. He begins calling Susie’s name aloud. Brian, overhearing Jack’s shouts, runs toward the noise. Brian... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...sleeping father, and sings him a song that he used to sing to her and Susie at bedtime. (full context)
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Susie backtracks in time to the moment Abigail got to the hospital. Upon arrival, Abigail finds... (full context)
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...asks Len how his wife died, and he tells her that she committed suicide. As Susie watches her mother and Len converse, she sees her as the version of her mother... (full context)
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Susie remembers, when she was alive, seeing the effect Abigail had on men. She recalls that... (full context)
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Susie remembers how, when her mother realized that she was pregnant with Buckley, she sealed the... (full context)
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...Abigail enters the room, and sees Lindsey asleep in a chair next to Jack’s bed. Susie watches from heaven, resolving not to “divide [her] family in [her] heart,” though they are... (full context)
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Susie watches the air above the hospital, which is “thick” with souls departing earth. Holly and... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...Ruth, also now in high school, watch as Brian “holds court” with the other students; Susie, looking down, knows that Clarissa and Brian at last have slept together. Everyone Susie knew... (full context)
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As November speeds by and the first anniversary of Susie’s death steadily approaches, Jack—who has been on an extended leave from work—prepares to return to... (full context)
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...observes Lindsey, helping her to avoid nicks, he asks if she wants to talk about Susie—they haven’t spoken about her in a while. Lindsey retorts that there’s no need to talk... (full context)
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...mother that she has always felt very alone, and that now, in the wake of Susie’s murder, she cannot express her feelings to anyone. She confesses to Lynn that she feels... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...looks around the basement, finding it neat and orderly, with nothing particularly odd sticking out. Susie wishes she could guide her sister to the crawlspace beneath it, where the bones of... (full context)
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As Lindsey moves through the house, Susie lists the names of the girls and women Harvey has murdered. Jackie Meyer, Delaware, 1967:... (full context)
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...Jack studies it, Abigail, frustrated by her husband and daughter’s obsessions with Harvey and with Susie’s murder, announces that she is going to pick up Buckley. She leaves, and Lindsey grabs... (full context)
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As Susie, up in heaven, walks away from the gazebo, she considers how grateful she is that... (full context)
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Two days later, Susie follows the map—it leads her to an olive tree at the edge of a wheat... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Susie delves into Mr. Harvey’s childhood. He and his mother would often sneak away from home—and... (full context)
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...disturbed, and is missing a page. He takes the knife which he used to kill Susie and drops it into a hole in the basement, before retrieving his “charms”—tokens from the... (full context)
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...from his sketchbook, he cunningly explains that he has been “trying to figure out” how Susie was killed—the murder upset him so much, that he wanted to try to get to... (full context)
Chapter 16
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A year to the day after Susie’s death, the doorbell at the Singh house rings, and Ruana answers the door. Ruth is... (full context)
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...as soon as he sees her. Ruth notices that one of her own drawings of Susie is hanging on Ray’s wall. She tells Ray that she has bought candles at the... (full context)
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...one has asked the Salmons about what they do or do not know. The memorial, Susie realizes, is as much for her as it is for the community, who are coming... (full context)
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...Abigail to take part in the vigil. Abigail insists that their family has already had Susie’s memorial, and says, “That’s done for me.” Lindsey asks her what she means by “that”—Abigail... (full context)
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...is sick of protecting Buckley. She explains to him that there is a party for Susie, and that the three of them are going to go. Buckley tells Lindsey that Susie... (full context)
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As Jack, Lindsey, and Buckley approach the field, Jack becomes emotional. He wants Susie to live on in the minds and hearts of everyone, but he also realizes that... (full context)
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Susie remembers one summer night, years ago, listening to one of their neighbors sing Irish ballads... (full context)
Snapshots
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Susie reflects on her great passion in life—photography. She took so many photographs that Jack would... (full context)
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...him and the children. Jack wonders where Lynn will stay, and then the answer becomes obvious—Susie’s room. (full context)
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...is something wrong with the story. He folds the assignment up and brings it into Susie’s old room, tucking it up in the secret hole beneath Susie’s box spring. (full context)
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...from Harvey’s crawl space are there. Finding them prompted a dig beneath the basement for Susie’s remains. Nothing turned up, though, and so Len ordered another dig through the cornfield. The... (full context)
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Meanwhile, in Connecticut, a hunter has just come upon something shiny on the ground—Susie’s Pennsylvania keystone charm. Sticking up out of the ground near the trinket are the “unmistakable... (full context)
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...towns. She cannot escape her grief, however, and finds herself frequently assaulted by memories of Susie. (full context)
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Jack organizes a memorial for Susie each year. As the years pass by, fewer and fewer friends and neighbors come, though... (full context)
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Ray grows more and more handsome by the year, and Susie watches him with a longing “different from what which [she has] for anyone else.” As... (full context)
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...a girl’s body found in Connecticut in 1976. A detective working the case has traced Susie’s keystone charm back to Len’s investigation. Len insists that Susie’s file is dead, but volunteers... (full context)
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Susie watches as the years go by. The trees in her yard grow taller, and when... (full context)
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One night, at Evensong up in heaven, Susie sees Holiday racing through her heaven. She waits for Holiday to sniff her out, and... (full context)
Chapter 17
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At twenty-one years old, Lindsey is many things that Susie will never become, but Susie no longer “grieves” this fact. She still lives vicariously through... (full context)
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...space, and an awkward silence passes between them as they both think of—but do not mention—Susie, and Susie is slightly disappointed. Samuel announces that he wants the house—he feels it “needs”... (full context)
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...by his side, and make a life with her inside of it. Lindsey accepts, and Susie, up in heaven, runs joyously in circles—Lindsey and Samuel have fulfilled her “dream.” Lindsey and... (full context)
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...an undercurrent of sadness, though, and out of the corner of his eye, Buckley sees Susie standing in the room, watching them all celebrate. (full context)
Chapter 18
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...with murder and the paranormal has made her something of a celebrity up in heaven. Susie has told everyone else in her heaven about Ruth’s dedication to amplifying the voices of... (full context)
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The day after Lindsey and Samuel’s graduation, Susie joins Ruth on her walk. Ruth wanders through Central Park with her journal. She spots... (full context)
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...Lindsey, and instead enjoys gardening. Buckley comes out onto the porch with a box of Susie’s old clothes, which he plans to use to help stake his tomato plants. When Jack... (full context)
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That night, as Susie looks down on her father lying in a hospital bed, she wonders in which direction... (full context)
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Up in her heaven, Susie walks down a new brick path that has appeared before her. She knows that at... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...warns Abigail of one more thing: Jack, in his groggy state, has been asking for Susie, too. (full context)
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...her wallet out of her back pocket and retrieves from it a school picture of Susie. She studies it carefully, taking in all the remembered details of Susie’s face, until she... (full context)
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...she has been “punished in the most horrible and unimaginable way” for never having wanted Susie in the first place. (full context)
Chapter 20
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To counter the list of the dead, Susie has begun keeping a list of the living—she has noticed that Len Fenerman does this,... (full context)
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Len writes in Susie’s file for the first time in a long time. He has obtained the name of... (full context)
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...habit—one she has not held onto in California—of sizing up every man she sees as Susie’s potential murderer. As Abigail eats, she thinks that she cannot handle being home for more... (full context)
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...he is too weak. Instead he watches the rain hit the windows of his room. Susie slips into the room to be near her mother and father, and is present in... (full context)
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...that he fell in love with her all over again while she was away, and Susie, watching them, experiences deep envy for the love they share—for the fact that Jack loves... (full context)
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Jack tells Abigail that Susie appeared in the room just now, and presses Abigail to admit that she too sees... (full context)
Chapter 21
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After Susie turns away from watching her parents, she moves on to watching Ray Singh, who is... (full context)
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Susie looks down on Route 30, at a spot Ruth and Ray are about to drive... (full context)
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...up—Harvey still hasn’t been caught. He reveals that the police have found an item of Susie’s—the Pennsylvania Keystone charm. Len reveals that the charm was found near another body in Connecticut,... (full context)
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As Susie turns south to catch up with Ruth and Ray, she instead runs into Mr. Harvey.... (full context)
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...the edge of the sinkhole, and Ruth asks Ray if he ever thinks about where Susie’s body ended up. Ray says that he does not. Trying to suppress the memories of... (full context)
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Susie checks in on her family. Hal, Samuel, and Buckley are at a bike show in... (full context)
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Harvey passes the Salmon house, and can see Lindsey in the upstairs window. Susie sees a group of people beginning to come down the road towards Harvey’s car—it is... (full context)
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...their car, Ruth remains silent, vowing not to tell Ray about her brief encounter with Susie at the sinkhole until she has written it down in her journal first. Ray spots... (full context)
Chapter 22
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As Ruth collapses into the road, Mr. Harvey “sail[s] away unwatched.” Susie tips forward helplessly, falling through the farthest boundary of her heaven. She is aware of... (full context)
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Ray asks Susie-as-Ruth what happened, but Susie—knowing he still believes her to be Ruth—does not know how to... (full context)
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Ray looks into Susie’s eyes, and notes that something has changed. Rather than reveal what has happened, Susie says... (full context)
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Ray asks Susie where she wants to go, and suddenly Susie knows why she has fallen to Earth—“to... (full context)
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At the back of the bike shop, Susie reaches over the doorjamb until she feels the spare key. Ray asks her how she... (full context)
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Susie steps inside the shower and calls for Ray to join her. Ray, for the first... (full context)
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As they have sex, Ray asks Susie what heaven looks like, and she does her best to explain. Ray asks Susie if... (full context)
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Susie sees something at the end of the bed—she tries to convince herself it is a... (full context)
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Susie notices that she is standing up among the spirts, but Ruth is sprawled across the... (full context)
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Susie recalls a memory of riding a train once, during her life on Earth, backward into... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...ride down in the elevator with him, and when the doors open on the lobby, Susie knows that the four of them are “meant to be there together, alone.” (full context)
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...set, and it is waiting for him when the Salmons all return from the hospital. Susie senses that during the forty-eight hours her mother sat by Jack’s side, the world has... (full context)
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Abigail goes upstairs to Susie’s old room. She whispers “I love you, Susie” into the empty room, and though Susie... (full context)
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...Abigail and Jack back home, and how honored he is to be marrying Lindsey. As Susie watches her family rejoice in one another’s love and company, she considers “the lovely bones”... (full context)
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...her it’s a date. Then Ray and Ruana join the Salmons in the living room. Susie realizes that no one in the room will know when she is gone, just as... (full context)
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...old places around the neighborhood and wants to restore them. Samuel marvels at the coincidence. Susie leaves the living room. (full context)
Bones
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Susie explains that “you don’t notice the dead leaving when they choose to leave you. You’re... (full context)
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...build ships in bottles, though he knows the act will always “hold an echo” of Susie. (full context)
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Susie says that her heaven is neither perfect nor gritty. It is a fun place, though... (full context)
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...which he chooses “not to disbelieve.” He knows deep down that he made love to Susie, and even in the black-and-white world of science and surgery, Ray hangs onto this truth.... (full context)
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One afternoon, scanning the earth alongside her grandfather, Susie’s view ends up at a diner her grandfather remembers from his days as a traveling... (full context)
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...diner falls and hits Mr. Harvey—he is thrown off-balance, and stumbles forward into the ravine. Susie explains that it will be weeks before the snow at the bottom of the ravine... (full context)
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Susie describes watching Lindsey build a garden outside her and Samuel’s new home. She works in... (full context)
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In a small house, five miles away, a man holds out Susie’s mud-covered charm bracelet to his wife. He explains that he found it at an old... (full context)