14 March 2011

Post 352: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. ISBN: 9780759527737 (eBook).

Lindsey is the sister of Susie, who was murdered at the beginning of the book. She's taking it hard, because the rest of her family is taking it hard and murder isn't exactly something that's easy to get over. In fact, most violent crime is pretty difficult to cope with, even when there isn't a death involved.

About six months after Susie is murdered, Lindsey goes to summer camp. During Summer Camp For Smart People, there is an annual competition. This year the theme is "Commit the Perfect Murder." This begs the question, how sensitive should we be when creating games or competitions like this? Granted, no harm is meant with these kind of things, but invariably it will cause some distress to people who have lived through violent crimes or had close friends or family members who have been victims.

For instance, there's a radio station that does weekly "Office Muggings" in which they surprise an office with mugs and other goodies. But is the use of the word mugging really appropriate? A lot of people have been mugged, and it's a very distressing experience that comes with a lot of residual pain. I'm not sure I would personally be okay having someone come into my work place and yelling, "THIS IS A MUGGING!" when I had previously lived through a version in which I was held at gun point.

But...there are games like Clue, which involve solving a murder. There are even murder mystery games that are occasionally hosted by libraries or other organizations in which the murders are actually reenacted (they often get someone to play the corpse/victim). This is good clean fun for most people, but it is a little insensitive. And do we really need these games, etc. to be focused on violent crimes? Why can't we focus instead on theft? Granted, that still ruins lives, but is not quite so personal. How much responsibility do we have to other people to consider what they may have survived and to not cause distress? Our world is too big to know everything about everyone, no matter how hard we try. Do we do our best to prevent distress, or do we go ahead with our plans and apologize later if someone is offended/hurt by it?

On a completely unrelated note, Happy Pi Day!

Great review over at Publisher's Weekly. As a note, I mostly liked this except for one spoiler-ish scene which ruined my dispensation of belief.
LibsNote: Library copy checked out via Overdrive Media.

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