By Alice Sebold

I wasn’t sure about this book. My mom bought it for me years ago (so many that I can’t remember) and, because I hadn’t been crazy for The Lovely Bones, I just sort of expected this to be the same sort of hokey thing. I stumbled upon it again as I was packing up all of our belongings for yet another move and decided to give it a read- mainly out of sheer boredom and also to have something to stop me from thinking about the stress of moving/ buying a house/ starting a PhD program/ leaving friends/ working in a mental institution (you get the idea).

I wasn’t expecting what I got.

Lucky is a memoir of Sebold’s rape as a college freshman in the early 1980s. Many authors would lead up to the rape slowly, building up to it. This book dives right in. Her account is graphic, raw, and painfully honest. She goes through moment by moment, ripping your heart out with her experience and what she had to do to survive. She makes it clear that she did whatever he told her to do because her life was far more valuable than that moment. Another book (Little Bee) discussed that scars are declarations of survival. The fact that skin had time to heal is a triumph. Sebold not only bears physical scars of her survival, but emotional ones. I’ve never encountered a more explicit account of rape from a real perspective and found myself crying while still in the first chapter. I mean, isn’t that all you really need to know?

I love that she didn’t build up to the rape and have it be the culmination of her story. She isn’t defined by this experience. It isn’t her ending. The rape happens and the story is how she puts herself back together, how she faces her family, how she reconciles her identity, how she fights back. I feel like I could call Sebold and chat it up. She is so honest about her flaws, about her missteps, never painting herself out to be some poor little girl who needed to be rescued. She isn’t some extraordinary heroine, she is you or me or any other woman who has been victimized and makes the choice to continue to breathe and move forward.

A quote in the beginning of the book that held true throughout was, “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.”

Sebold never claims to speak for all rape victims. She never claims to be perfect or unbreakable. She does what she has to do to get through.

Another great element, though sometimes a little hard to get through, are the court scenes. She uses actual transcripts to convey how exhausting the questioning was. I have heard that testifying is tiring, but could never understand it---- until this book. I felt flustered and overwhelmed and annoyed… something she couldn’t have achieved without so much rigorous research.

Truthfully, there is a lot I want to say and a lot I want to comment on, but some things in this book are totally unexpected and I would hate to ruin it for you. But, believe me that I have PLENTY more to say. Too much, maybe.

Anyway, this isn’t a fun read or an easy read but it is compelling and real- qualities that aren’t too common in literature (even in memoirs and autobiographies).

Read it.

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