Lucky by Alice Sebold

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Lucky by Alice Sebold

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Category: Biography
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: If you enjoyed The Lovely Bones you may be keen to read what appears to be, at least in part, Alice Sebold's true-life inspiration for the story. A brutal, harrowing glimpse into a traumatic, life-shaping event in the author's past.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: June 2003
Publisher: Picador
ISBN: 978-0330418362

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Call me daft, but despite the jacket blurb calling this book a memoir, I had it in my head that it was going to be more of a story. Oddly, whilst this narrative was exactly as it was described: a memoir, it actually turned out to be a story as well.

Lucky is the compelling true-life tale of Alice Sebold, eighteen-year-old college freshman and victim of a particularly vicious rape and savage beating. Alone, without the triumph over the odds, her attacker's capture and a satisfying "guilty" verdict, the tale would have been beyond harrowing. Alice has her innocence stolen that night. Everything that she has ever thought about people changes in the time her attacker takes to sexually assault and beat her. Trust becomes an extravagance Alice can no longer afford.

What you realise, very early on, is that Alice is a survivor and thank goodness for that. I think if she had retreated into her shell following her ordeal (and who could blame her?), I might have cried with frustration. It certainly seems that when faced with other rape victims whom, for their own reasons, have decided to bury their experience and pretend it never happened, Alice felt the same way.

What is most horrifying about the book is that so many women have had either the same, similar or a worse experience. The physical pain and suffering, the psychological wounds, confusion, abandonment by their friends and contemporaries as if rape is contagious, the self-loathing and the need to have a normal life and yet being unable to achieve it, are all things that Alice experiences.

The journey Alice takes in writing about her ordeal and the events in her life that follow is perhaps part of a larger cathartic process but I also feel that just by sitting down and telling her story, the author has done a great deal to raise awareness. Rape can, and does, happen to anyone.

By far and away the most fascinating aspect of Alice's story is the Aftermath. The final eleven pages chronicle what happened to Alice after she graduates and span a much greater time frame; more than 10 years.

The last line in the book, before the Aftermath, leads you to believe that Alice has tidied this incident away into a box in her mind. Her attacker is behind bars, the trial is behind her and a new life awaits. The Aftermath is not indiscriminately entitled for what happens to Alice in the next ten years or so is far more revealing of her state of mind, post-attack. What is refreshing is Sebold's truthfulness. That what happened to her never really went away. Like the death of a loved one, you don't get over something like that; you just learn to live with it. Lucky is Alice's way of saying look what happened to me; I'm still here and it's been a long road, but life is very much worth living.

You may also like to try Behaving Like Adults by Anna Maxted, which also deals with the subject of rape, albeit in a manner that is slightly less grave, but nonetheless worthy of your attention - don't be put off by the fact that she usually writes within the Chick-Lit genre. Maxted is a fine author who tackles a gritty subject sensitively and ably. Alternatively, if you want to try out Alice Sebold's further work, you may want to read The Lovely Bones, which we have reviewed for you here at Bookbag.

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Buy Lucky by Alice Sebold at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lucky by Alice Sebold at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Lucky by Alice Sebold at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lucky by Alice Sebold at


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