What I thought was going to be a simple coming of age novel, quickly turned into a dark, macabre story filled with so much anguish and tragedy that it was difficult to tear my eyes away from the pages for even a second. Philips' writing flows off the pages making it such a pleasure to read. The story still haunts me in many ways and the images that filled my head while reading are not easy to forget. I think this novel would make a brilliant movie.
Lucky's life has never been easy. The only people she really knows are AnnMarie, her "mother" for all intents and purposes and her "grandmother", Marian, who is hardly ever around. Then there is Tom Cressfield - the minute he made an appearance in the story, my skin began to crawl because he has a strange creepiness that just screams, "Cannot be trusted!!".
Lucky's life takes a turn for the worse when AnnMarie mysteriously disappears, and Marian becomes abusive, making her life a living hell. Lucky takes refuge in the new friendship she forms with Rika, a new girl who not only understands Lucky, but accepts her without a question. Rika and Lucky's relationship develops into something much deeper and they share a strong bond of love and friendship, and I felt that Lucky held onto it with dear life because it was the closest thing to normal that she ever had.
Yet another tragic event befalls Lucky and it was at this point that I thought she should consider a name change, because she was anything but lucky. Marian's psychotic behaviour pushes her over the edge and Lucky makes what was probably the best decision of her life, she leaves. But she also very quickly realises that leaving does not mean that the past can be forgotten. The mystery of what really happened to AnnMarie haunts her wherever she goes, and the fear that Marian will find her and drag her back to hell forces Lucky to find an escape from her reality. One that nearly costs her, her life.
It is at this point that things start to look up for Lucky. Things finally start falling into place for her and for the first time in her life she finds stability. Only Lucky's past comes knocking sooner than expected, threatening to destroy her happiness, and she is thrown right back into the mess that is Tom Cressfield and Marian. But the horror of revisiting her past brings with it many answers as well as many heartbreaking truths.
Everything happens for a reason and there are never any chance encounters are two messages that read strong within the pages of this story. It is filled to the brim with emotion. Lucky doesn't always make the right decisions and many times I shook my head in disbelief but that was what made this story so phenomenal. Lucky was real. She wasn't perfect and things often fell apart for her, but she kept moving forward.
What I loved about this book were the small things which stood out from the drama. Like the birds that always appeared to Lucky at the appropriate times. It may not have played an integral part in the story, but there was something magical about the tie in with what AnnMarie had told Lucky about birds being responsible for bringing the souls of the dead to heaven to become angels. It was like finding gems amongst the ruins of Lucky's life, and I think Fleur Philips needs to be applauded as an author for adding such special moments of beauty to such a tragic story.
Favorite quotes from the book:
"We were like children playing a game for the first time, but with no directions and no wrong moves."
"I saw my past and his, two broken roads running side by side, then joining to form one steady path."