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4.5 out of 5 stars
Lucky: A Memoir
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2002
Like her wonderful novel The Lovely Bones - which I've also reviewed and which you must read - Lucky is a harrowing, heart-wrenching book about the worst possible thing that can happen to a woman. Alice Sebold tells the raw story of her rape ordeal and her subsequent struggle for recovery with an honesty and warmth which is compelling. Lucky reads almost like a novel itself at times, with gripping moments of suspense, particularly during the court trial scenes.
Alice Sebold was the innocent victim of an unforgivable crime - but she doesn't ask for our sympathy or pity in these beautifully written pages. She earns our respect and admiration for the courageous way she tells how the traumatic events changed and shaped her life; how the naive college student would eventually become a hardened, determined aggressor herself in her brave fight for justice against her attacker. Sadly, this natural reaction to her personal violation came with a price - destructive behavioural damage that brought a later downward spiral into drugs. What the author didn't know at the time is that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; an anxiety syndrome that emerges following a psychologically distressing traumatic event such as rape, which she battles to overcome.
Can someone really, truly, get over something so savage and brutal as rape is the numbing thought you're left with long after you put the book aside? The past can never be forgotten, but Alice Sebold has managed to crawl from the wreckage and move on with her life to a happier future that has brought her international fame and acclaim. That says something about the human spirit - and everything about this remarkable woman.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2005
Straight away, let me mention that I also read The Lovely Bones; my opinion of that book was that it was contrived; after the first 60 pages it didn't really work for me.
Now this book: Very Impressive! This is a tough story to tell and the author did a great job. The voice is authentic and the details make it real, and I learned alot: i.e. how men accused of rape usually beat the rap. (I didn't know this; thought in fact the opposite was true!) Hang on through the entire book. The beginning is violent and intense -- and you may want to turn away or put it down -- don't! Keep reading. You heart will go out to this young woman, as my heart did. Keep reading, even through the later sections, the trial which, for me, was toughest part because it almost reads like a court transcription.
Now the kicker. Right when you think the book is over and you think the protagonist (or the author) is a "winner" -- pow! -- flashforward to the East Village years later. Here you'll see how although she managed to convict her rapist, she hasn't managed to put the entire event behind her. This is not a Hollywood ending. The protagonist/author experiences an aftershock of fear and self-loathing that she is unable to control, that pursues her even into another city, even years later; she can't seem to escape it. This epilogue is what really made me love this book. Life goes on, yes -- but misfortune sometimes takes a huge chunk of our spirit. And yet you must still go on! This book is a tribute to a true survivor, a book about real life; it now has a permanent place in my library. I recommend it strongly for those of you not afraid of entering the darkness, even for a moment; sometimes you need to enter the darkness in order to appreciate the light. I feel as if this book will stay with me a long time -- now that's great art! Along with this memoir, another book I'd like to recommend -- a much lighter, funnier book ('cause we all need to laugh too, my God) -- is The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition by Richard Perez. Quite sweet and haunting, too; a comedy with a soul.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2004
The Truth shall set you free in this tell all honest look into the life in a terrible enviroment, the enviroment inside of a mind that has been physically and mentally abused.. The book delves into the pain that she had to live through similar to that of the reality based/courageous 'NIGHTMARES ECHO',has poignant,at times a bit of humor like that of 'RUNNING WITH SCISSORS', and a bit sorrowful like that of 'BEAUTY FOR ASHES'. No matter what comparrison you make....'Lucky' is an exceptional look at abuse..........and as I have seen from the prior books I have read, abuse comes in many forms and scars what it touches!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2007
It's rare to come across a book that I like as much as this one. Well, liked is probably not the right word since there are passages that deeply disturb, but then, that's what great literature does, I suppose.

The writing, the voice, is crystal clear, and this is one of the things that I enjoyed best about this insightful yet sometimes hard to take yarn. LUCKY will undoubtedly shock many--as it should. After all, it is about rape. As in her LOVELY BONES, Seabold pulls no punches, yet the work is not over the top, rather it is well crafted with pacing that allows the reader to take in what she has to say without being overwhelmed emotionally. Sebold describes for us, in great detail, the trial, the aftermath, and the emotional devestation she feels. This is no small book emotionally, the same way some other great reads are, and it takes someone with fortitude to get through it, especially if you're a woman. I would also recommend another great read that I recently came across titled "Bark of the Dogwood" for those interested in reading about individuals overcoming adversity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2005
Through a devastating rape and the ordeal to follow comes a courageous read from a fantastic author. Alice Seabold, best known for her novel, "Lovely Bones" has served us well with this telling memoir of painful emotions and difficult occurances that led her to the point of coming full circle.
As of late, I have been in bed rest due to a broken knee and have had the pleasure of reading some of the most riveting books I could have only imagined.
"Lucky" is one of thos books as well as Nightmares Echo, A Paper Life and Running With Scissors. Each are courageous reads with powerful healing journeys.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2004
"Lucky" is one of those books that get under your skin, both emotionally and physically. I was drawn to it, both from the aspect of what the author went through, the ordeal that played again and again in her mind. But, I was also drawn in by the courage of this wonderful author. She gives us her soul in the words of this book. Tells us her life, which could not have been easy, but will in the end lend inspiration to others.
I would have to say "Lucky" is as great a book as that of "Nightmares Echo" by Katlyn Stewart
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on June 2, 2004
Alice Sebold was an 18-year-old college freshman, walking through the park after a party on the last day of school, when she was attacked and raped in May 1981. She details the brutal crime and its immediate aftermath in the dorm, the police station, home with her parents.
Then she chronicles her return to the campus where it all happened, and when a new uphill battle begins when she sees the rapist on the street and decides to prosecute.
Alice's life and relationships with friends and family take turns for the better and the worse, although not all at the same time and in the same direction. Her year back at school coupled with identifying the rapist and going through the trial is harrowing and taxing on the reader, one can only imagine what it was like for the author to go through it herself!!! Sebold paints a very clear picture, writing down every detail (carefully researched by meeting with her lawyers and other key players 15 years later.)
This is an important book for women to read -- the rape and trial that Sebold went through in 1981 could very well have happened verbatim today and any year before, in between or beyond.
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on April 24, 2004
As I read "The Lovely Bones" (also remarkably well-written by Sebold) I remember thinking how the author must have endured some kind of emotional trauma to give her such insight into the pulsing anger and isolation of being violated. Here in her memoir I am devastated to know just how victimized she was at such a young age. Yet despite the gruesome topic, details of her rape at 18, and subsequent emotional destitution, this book is a story of conquest. Her narrative is a discussion of her life's emotional storms and her vanquish over situations that gave rise to her pain. She incorporates wit and detail to paint her vivid narrative.
The title "Lucky" is ironic. A police officer told her after her rape that she should consider herself "lucky" she wasn't killed because they had found a dead woman in the very same place she had been raped. That sentiment is a reflection on the awkward feelings people express to try to comfort a victim. Sebold explores how so many of those dialogues actually gave her more feelings of disassociation. We've come a long way in our attempts to support vitims but could never come close enough. The violation of penetration without consent will always be one of the most emotionally scarring events a woman can ever experience. Hopefully this book will be part of a kit given to victims to give them hope that although you can never go back to who you were before you were assaulted you can surmount the pain and regain your goals and aspirations and thrive despite the violence.
What an amazingly well written book. I wish I could give this book more than five stars.
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on December 12, 2003
Frankly, I liked (if that's a word that can be used about a book concerning the subject of personal rape) Lucky more than The Lovely Bones, her second book, the one that put her on the map. Perhaps 'appreciated' would be a better word for my feelings about Lucky.
To bare oneself, to detail the experience of rape so unsparingly, to extend the memoir back to her childhood and forward to her downward spiral into heroin addiction and depression is to strip naked for your public. It takes guts, something Alice Sebold has in spades.
The book's title comes from a comment by a cop that she should consider herself "lucky" to have just been raped, as another young woman was murdered in the same spot just a short time earlier. Not feeling very "lucky," Sebold proceeds to show how this incident of brutality and violence changed the course of her life.
I have heard Alice Sebold speak on several occasions and greatly admire her candor, her honesty, and her insistence on calling rape by its true name. Bravo for this sere and scathing memoir by a remarkable woman and writer.
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on August 18, 2003
Alice Sebold writes an astonishingly honest and hauntingly true recollection of her life surrounding her rape. i was moved to tears;
both because her words resounded so much of my own experiences myself being a rape and incest survivor and young woman. She is so brave in her account, and speaks candidly of her conflictual emotions, gives a raw depiction of her truths and shows us as the reader the roller coaster that she rode and will continue to ride as a very beautiful woman and survivor. She makes me feel like i am not alone, and her words helped me to validate my own experiences as i feel she must do for all readers who may have experienced something similar & i find myself nodding my head and identifying with her reality and feeling her hurt and relishing in her victory when there is those few moments. It is a very intense memoir but her words are carefully selected and articulated showing her obvious genius and intellect. Thank you, Alice, for giving a sounding board for readers to understand this experience or to relate and feel validated and heard.
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