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Lucky Paperback – September, 2002

496 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Sebold, the author of the current bestseller The Lovely Bones, was a college freshman at Syracuse University, she was attacked and raped on the last night of school, forced onto the ground in a tunnel "among the dead leaves and broken beer bottles." In a ham-handed attempt to mollify her, a policeman later told her that a young woman had been murdered there and, by comparison, Sebold should consider herself lucky. That dubious "luck" is the focus of this fiercely observed memoir about how an incident of such profound violence can change the course of one's life. Sebold launches her memoir headlong into the rape itself, laying out its visceral physical as well as mental violence, and from there spins a narrative of her life before and after the incident, weaving memories of parental alcoholism together with her post-rape addiction to heroin. In the midst of each wrenching episode, from the initial attack to the ensuing courtroom drama, Sebold's wit is as powerful as her searing candor, as she describes her emotional denial, her addiction and even the rape (her first "real" sexual experience). She skillfully captures evocative moments, such as, during her girlhood, luring one of her family's basset hounds onto a blue silk sofa (strictly off-limits to both kids and pets) to nettle her father. Addressing rape as a larger social issue, Sebold's account reveals that there are clear emotional boundaries between those who have been victims of violence and those who have not, though the author attempts to blur these lines as much as possible to show that violence touches many more lives than solely the victim's.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Sebold was raped as a college freshman, but the police said she was "lucky." At least she wasn't murdered and dismembered like the girl before her. Now a journalist, Sebold here details the aftermathAposttraumatic stress syndrome, heroin addiction, and, finally, some measure of understanding. This book is based partly on a feature appearing in the New York Times Sunday Magazine that prompted an appearance on Oprah.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1st edition (September 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316096199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316096195
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (496 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alice Sebold is the bestselling author of "The Lovely Bones," a novel, and "Lucky," a memoir. Both are #1 New York Times bestsellers. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Sebold grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended Syracuse University, as well as the University of Houston and the University of California, Irvine. She now lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 158 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Carey on December 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What happened to Alice Sebold shouldn't happen to anyone. That she survived her ordeal at all is miraculous, but that she found a voice with which to describe her experience with clarity, with tremendous insight and with warmth is almost unbelievable, yet this is exactly what she does with Lucky.
As a studen at Syracuse University in 1980, Alice is the victim of a horribly brutal rape as she leaves a friends house. The experience understandably shatters her, but even she does not realize the depth of her feelings or the effect they are having on her life and behavior. She eventually sees her rapist again, and takes us through the trial and subsequent events in her life, which are tied intricately to the rape even though she is unaware of it. The afterward picks up ten years after the book opens as she is still battling with the emotional scars that have not yet healed.
That anyone can talk about such horror at all is amazing, but Alice really allows readers inside her head, hiding nothing from them. Her painful interactions with her family and friends as they try to do what's best for her, and as she tries to convince them that she's 'recovered' come across as achingly real as they were for her. Readers, too, can see how damaged Alice still feels even as she tells herself that she's not, and I felt myself rooting for this heroic woman throughout the book, hoping that she would find whatever justice that she could and pick up the pieces of her life.
This is no maudlin tale, not at all romanticized or sugar coated, which may be difficult for some to take, as it was for me at times. But I kept reading because I was so amazed at what was being offered, that someone was sharing such a personal experience, something that affects more women than most people know.
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100 of 115 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book strictly because I am a rape survivor. I was raped in June of 2003. My attack and rape were so similar to Seebold's that it was eerie. One aspect of rape therapy is to re-tell your own story; re-write it. However, when you are attacked so brutally and aren't 'supposed' to be alive, the re-telling is difficult. Events are lost in memory almost as quickly as they occur. The brain is too preoccupied with dying as painlessly as possible, while simultaneously looking for any escape (at least in my own case).
Because of the way that my brain functioned under such duress, I am finding this book to be a useful tool lately. As I re-read Seebold's account of her own rape, I am better able to remember. I can say, 'yes! exactly what happened!' or 'no, I did this instead.' I write in the margins. I do it for personal use, to better help in my own recovery. If you are a survivor, I would ask your counselor if she recommends this for you. It is helping me now. Hence, on that score, this book has been invaluable to me.
However, I must agree with previous reviewers regarding the rather selfish tone of the author. I also found her to be overly self-centered and amazingly insensitive to others around her. I did get the impression that she really believed that she was the only one that had been hurt and even if she wasn't, her pain was the only pain that mattered (not just to her, but in general.)
Yet, it is important to remember that this is a *memoir* and not fiction. Therefore, Ms. Seebold can only tell the story as it is. If there is not much written on recovery, well, perhaps this is because there hasn't been much experience in the way of recovery.
I would certainly not have picked this book up had I not shared a similar experience.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By L. Plybon on November 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
There are not many writers who can be extremely talented fiction AND non-fiction writers. So even though I had read "The Lovely Bones" and knew Alice Sebold to be an extremely gifted storyteller, I hesitated to take up "Lucky". It was non-fiction and moreover, autobiographical, and moreover, documents a personal tragedy. With all due respect, and without diminishing the seriousness of the subject, I wasn't sure I would be able to stick with it to the end.

Well, I certainly did stick with it to the end; if you liked "The Lovely Bones" reading this will help you understand how she was able to bring haunting and heartbreaking life to the characters in that book. She tells her story brilliantly. I recommend this book without reservation.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By lazza on January 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
Alice Sebold was raped during her freshman year in college. One can think of this as just a statistic because, undoubtedly, a great many eighteen year old girls are raped. But the author expertly describes how this event affected her. One might think this solitary event is (hopefully) followed by a singular period of recovery, albeit perhaps a very long period of recovery. I've learned from 'Lucky' that this simply isn't true. One's psyche/soul takes a windy, unpredictable path after experiencing such brutal trauma. Alice Sebold describes her path very clearly. Tough reading, but I think this is perhaps the best memoir of this sort I've ever read.

Bottom line: although the subject matter is likely to turn off prospective readers I suggest 'Lucky' be required reading by all.
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