Coming of age can be a difficult process not only due to an acceptance of new experiences, but also moving forward from one's past experiences. This is certainly the case in the novel The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. The main character, Susie, comes of age after she accepts her position in heaven and stops trying to live through her loved ones on Earth.
Susie seems to be able to accept her death to some extent, but refuses to monitor her loved ones on Earth. At first she finds interest in her new heaven. She is fascinated with the endless possibilities of her experiences. Susie explains this, she says, "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" (Sebold 19). For years she watches her friends and families' every move and thought trying to grow up through them in this way. Susie is unable to let go of this because to her, it is all she has. Susie's counselor in heaven, Franny, discusses the inevitable step in which Susie will have to move on, she states, "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" (Sebold 121). This is a thought that seems impossible to Susie. But as years go by and her loved ones grow older and change, she does so in her own way. As the story nears the end, Susie is able to enter Earth in the form of a friend she has been watching since her death, Ruth. For the short time she is allotted on Earth, she is able to complete her one wish, to be with her only crush, Ray, again and make love to him. It is a step in her coming of age as she is able to fill one of the voids she feels has been left out in her life form her early death. The final stages of her coming of age are completed as she is watching Earth and views all her loved ones gathered together, happy and at peace with her...
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