Due to this inability to fully grasp the meaning of the after life, people have begun to have different perspectives on what heaven means to them.
The main themes in "The Lovely Bones," are death, longing, and the Salmon family's long journey through grief.
Death plays a large role in this story because Susie Salmon, a fourteen year old high school student, is brutally raped and killed while walking home from school one day. Harvey, her friendly, slightly odd next door neighbor, is the man who killed her. Whatever his latest victim's name is, that is the name he uses when people ask him what his wife's name was.
He enjoys killing things, and so as to avoid killing humans, he starts off by killing small animals, such as birds and mice, "taking lesser lives to keep from killing a child." He then advances onto dogs and cats, and finishes off with humans. He does this to enjoy and prolong what it felt to kill that particular person.
Susie is only one of his many victims, as he has killed a wide range of women- from six year olds to fifty year olds. Longing is one of the main themes in this novel because both Susie and her family desperately long for each other.