A most delicate handling of a most atrocious situation: the murder of a young female family member.
The story is told from the vantage point of said female, in heaven. The book makes pains to keep away from the mechanics of death-life, and heaven, and from the direct thrust for retribution of the narrator, focusing instead entirely on the psychological and emotional responses of those she left behind, told from an all-seeing, all-knowing viewpoint. As the years roll by, she experiences her former friends mature together without her, her family fall apart under her loss, and her murderer continue to commit the same crime.
I find this narrative viewpoint refreshing given the current vogue for relating a story to a reader as if they were experiencing it for themselves; it gives the author a less restricted canvas on which to tell a story the most economical way, allowing Alice to focus on the emotions and intimate consequences upon the cast. The book's creation and use of characters is ultra-realistic, and their responses to events immediately believable.
The middle part of the book becomes an almost run-of-the-mill soap opera, with a cast of characters mingling freely but somewhat aimlessly together.
Unfortunately I find the handling of the subject sickly-sweet. In the end all things turn out nice: the family is back together in a friendly neighbourhood, the childhood sweethearts are getting married, and even the killer gets his just desserts, but with the deftest possible treatment, quickly forgotten. Ultimately Alice's refusal to bring the book to a crescendous conclusion, preferring instead to make for a climax of family love, disappoints and leaves a book to be filed conspicuously on the girly shelves.
It is very nice, but will leave no lasting impression on me.