Firstly; please excuse the film version book cover.
I have been told to read this book for a number of years by a close friend, but managed to put it off and put it off until I rediscovered it an abandoned stack of books in my house. I guess I had been putting it off because I thought, after foolishly watching the film first, that it really wouldn't be my thing however with my efforts to expand my reading horizons I ventured in. I was not left disappointed.
Granted, this book is graphic; both in the physical sense and emotionally. Despite this, the graphicness is important and valuable to the story, offering a tragic contrast to the innocent mind and voice of Susie, the principal character and the voice of the book. Susie’s narration of events is stunning and perfectly portrayed however I feel that, personally, I would have struggled a little with the imagery and events if I had not seen the film prior to reading the book (controversial I know but it’s possible I'm alone on this one).
What I love about this book is that it is an interesting and unique interpretation of teenage life and growing up and what is important about growing, as well as the way a family can adapt and change as time progresses. The unusual and detailed characters bring the story to life and offer such depth and to the story, as well as being interesting and likeable. My only real issue with the characterisation is how the characters on earth are much more detailed and interesting than the characters in 'heaven'- however it would be easy to argue that this is a stylistic technique.
In addition, some scenes are a little far fetched, brilliantly written, but a little far fetched; which brings in an element of sci-fi. I would be really interested to hear others opinions on this (if you read the book it will become obvious which scene I'm talking about but for the sake of spoilers I don't want to go into too much detail) as I have heard mixed reviews and various differing opinions- some love it some just don't get it.
Although this book is a little tricky its well worth the read, beautifully written and crafted, however maybe stay clear if you are maybe younger (say below 16? although I'm not one for being good at age recommendations).