Thursday, February 21, 2013

in my bones

After hearing almost nothing but positive reviews, I finally sat down to read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.  It had been sitting on my Kindle backlog of books that I had purchased with intentions to read but didn't for various reasons.  One of the friends who recommended the novel to me did so during a conversation over how I was coping with losing my uncle.  She thought that the book, though not exactly an uplifting story, did a wonderful job conveying the breadth and depth of emotions accompanying loss and recovery.  It was supposed to be uplifting.

A couple of chapters into the book I realized that I had made a huge mistake.  My mind could not wrap around the lovely bones of connections that were growing in the character's absence.

I was thinking not of Uncle Jon but of another woman and a wound that remains open.

Michelle Parker went to high school with me in Winter Park, Florida.  At one time she was very close with my best friend but they had a falling out. Typical high school silliness.  After graduation we went in very different directions.  My best friend attended a well regarded university in another state and then built a storybook ending type of life for herself in Chicago while Michelle remained in town and apparently dated the the same types bad boys that had swarmed to her in high school.  Michelle was beautiful with a vivacious, forceful personality.  I write in past tense because she has been missing since 17 November, 2011.

Missing.  There is no wholeness being built in this story, but gaping emptiness.  She was last seen after a dispute with her ex-fiance, Dale Smith, was publicly aired.  Coincidentally, Dale Smith was the last known person to see her, hours after the video aired. In the video she claimed, "He gets pretty malicious and vindictive..and he's a mean person, especially when he's been drinking. He shouldn't have put his hands on me, and he shouldn't have put his hands on me prior."

I cannot finish the book.  Every time I even think about the book, I am filled with an awful weight of despair and frustration.  Where is she, Dale Smith?  I am sickened that he has custody of the children when he is the prime (only) suspect.  I am angry that the police can't prove anything that all of us feel in our bones, that he murdered her.  I feel the ghost of the book in the form of these questions and fears that are floating around me.  Where is she, Dale Smith? Where is Michelle?

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