Sunday, May 2, 2010


Lucky by Alice Sebold
Trade Paperback, 258 pages
Little, Brown, and Company, 1999
ISBN-13: 9780316096195
nonfiction, memoir
very highly recommended

Synopsis from cover:
In a memoir hailed for its searing candor and wit, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was utterly transformed when, as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus. What propels this chronicle of her recovery is Sebold's indomitable spirit - as she struggles for understanding; as her dazed family and friends sometimes bungle their efforts to provide comfort and support; and as, ultimately, she triumphs, managing through grit and coincidence to help secure her attacker's arrest and conviction. In a narrative by turns disturbing, thrilling, and inspiring, Alice Sebold illuminates the experience of a trauma victim even as she imparts wisdom profoundly hard-won: "You save yourself or remain unsaved."
My Thoughts:

Sebold's memoir, Lucky, is an incredible book. It is also a blunt, honest book, graphically detailing her brutally violent rape as an 18 yr old young woman and the subsequent trial. It is not for the faint of heart. Also, since this is a memoir, events, encounters, and the conclusion aren't all as neat and tidy as one would find in a novel, but real life can be complicated and messy. Sebold begins Lucky with a detailed account of her rape when she was a freshman at Syracuse University, which is difficult to read, but essential to understanding the aftermath it caused in her personal relationships and her struggle for justice and recovery. Some reviewers have criticized Sebold for being self absorbed, but I didn't find Lucky to be any more self absorbed than any other memoir -after all, it is an account from her perspective. Sebold is an excellent writer and her story needed to be told.

I was initially reluctant to read Lucky because I wasn't quite as taken with The Lovely Bones as many other people were. A friend (who happens to be a librarian) and I both felt it was geared more to teen readers (her young adult daughter loved it) or at least younger readers. While Lucky is definitely for a mature reader, I would not hesitate to recommend it to an older, mature teen. Yes, I would do so with caution. Young women need to know this: Rape is a reality; they need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. I am a few years older than Sebold, but I too, remember a girl who was raped on campus during my freshman year of college. I understood exactly what Sebold meant when the "news" spread and she became known as the girl who was raped. Even today there are alerts on campuses across the country about a rapist in the area. Knowledge can be power.
Very Highly Recommended


In the tunnel where I was raped, a tunnel that was once an underground entry to an amphitheater; a place where actors burst forth from underneath the seats of a crowd, a girl had been murdered and dismembered. I was told this story by the police. In comparison, they said, I was lucky. opening

This is what I remember. My lips were cut. I bit down on them when he grabbed me from behind and covered my mouth. He said these words: "I'll kill you if you scream." pg 5

At that moment I signed myself over to him. I was convinced that I would not live. I could not fight anymore. He was going to do what he wanted to me. That was it. pg. 6

I've always hated it in movies and plays, the woman who is ripped open by violence and then asked to parcel out redemption for the rest of her life.
"I forgive you," I said. I said what I had to. I would die by pieces to save myself from real death. pg. 13

I don't remember how long it took -- not long because it was university property and the hospital was only six blocks south. The police arrived first, but I have no memory of what I said to them there.
Then I was on a gurney, being strapped down. Then out in the hallway. There was a large crowd now and it blocked the entrance. I saw the RSA look over at me as he was being questioned.
A policeman took control.
"Get out of the way," he said to my curious peers. "This girl's just been raped." pg. 16

It was horribly changed and marked, my friend's smile. It was not free and open, born of the silliness our smiles had been all year, but it was a comfort to me. She cried more than I did and her face became mottled and swollen. pg. 17

I told the police not to call my mother. Unaware of my appearance, I believed I could hide the rape from her and from my family. My mother had panic attacks in heavy traffic; I was certain my rape would destroy her. pg. 19

The others were foggy and off to the side. They were watching my life as if it were a movie. In their version of the story, where did they fit? I would find out over the years that in a few versions, I was their best friend. Knowing a victim is like knowing a celebrity. Particularly when the crime is clouded in taboo. pg. 25

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