An American fiction and memoir writer, she is best known for her 2002 novel, The Lovely Bones, which tells the story of the rape and murder of a teenage girl. Her 1999 memoir, Lucky, details her own rape.
She studied creative writing at Syracuse University. She subsequently worked as a waitress in Manhattan while pursuing her writing career.
She once worked as the caretaker of an artists' colony and lived in an electricity-less cabin in the woods.
She was born in Wisconsin and raised in Pennsylvania. She married Glen David Gold in 2001.
Her novel, The Lovely Bones, was made into a feature film starring Mark Wahlberg.