There are some books that people just rave too much about; in response, in my infinite maturity and wisdom, I tend to dig my heels in and avoid said books - maybe not like the plague, but at least like a serious flu. I often don't relent on this (I will never read The Da Vinci Code!!), but sometimes I break down and give a much lauded/publicized/gushed over book a try - hence, why I'm now reading Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.
I have to say, I was worried, for when I do break down and read books at the centre of public book club hysteria I am very often disappointed. (The Kite Runner, for example, is one of the worst books I've ever read; you have to be a particularly talented author (and by talented I mean not talented) to make characters flatter and more clichéd as a book progresses).
I have to say, though, that so far, The Lovely Bones is a very pleasant surprise. Part of why it's a pleasant surprise is that the authors takes such a risky approach - the narrator is a 14-year old girl who, having been raped and murdered, watches from heaven as her family, friends, and townspeople try to come to grips with her disappearance (in the narrative where I am, it's two months after her death and all they've found is one of her elbows).
But The Lovely Bones, for all its goodness as a read is not free of the startlingly difficult. I've had a lot of teary moments with this one, but that's to be expected; if I didn't, then Sebold wouldn't be succeeding. Unless something goes horribly wrong (as it does sometimes; I was really enjoying Miriam Toews' A Complicated Kindness a year or so ago but then halfway through just began loathing it), I'll probably check out Sebold's other books one of these days.