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Lucky Paperback – September, 2002

3.9 out of 5 stars 4,567 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: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4,567 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover
Alice Sebold has written a remarkable debut novel. The narrator, Susie Salmon, was raped and murdered in 1973 and now resides in her heaven; yet, her voice contains none of the bitterness one would expect. She is able to see into the lives of those who touched her in life and death. At times wistful - for she will never be able to experience growing up - and others matter-of-fact, Susie witnesses the changes and growth within her family and small circle of friends. Her story is not one about death, but about loss and affirming life in its face, about moving on not only for those she left behind but for herself. The reader won't be able to escape the sadness in these pages - I came close to crying several times - but the overall tone is hardly grim. Because Susie is secure and happy in her heaven, she keeps the story full of light and optimism.
This novel is not flawless, nor should it expected to be. The narrative loses some of its momentum near the end. In addition, Sebold makes the mistake of adding a scene (which I won't describe here) seemingly designed to lessen the reader's regret about Susie's missed coming-of-age, but instead the scene falls flat. Susie's loss is as much a part of this book as her family's is, and to pretend it can be reversed, even if only temporarily, defeats the story. Still, given the first two-thirds of the book, this misstep and others can be forgiven.

The Lovely Bones is one of those books you can pick up and not want to put down again until you finish. At roughly 325 pages, this novel demands to be read on a plane, or on the beach, or when you have good chunks of time available to sit with it. Don't frustrate yourself by allowing a half hour here and there.
This is one book that deserves its spot on the bestseller list.
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Format: Hardcover
Less than 2 years ago, our 13-year-old son Daniel died - very unexpectedly, of a massive asthma attack while on a school retreat. I purchased "The Lovely Bones", knowing the book's premise, for our 17-year old daughter to read. Not sure if the content of the book would be too close to our actual experience for Julia to handle, I decided to read it first (this is the first time I have done any pre-reading, as Julia is perfectly able to decide on her own whether or not to read a book, but still. . . ). I was very surprised to find myself riveted to the book, and unable to stop reading it until finished. While I, like many earlier reviewers, found the end a little too contrived, I certainly feel that the book's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses.
About 6 months after Daniel's death, I had a dream that portrayed a visit by my husband, daughter, and myself to Daniel in what was clearly "his heaven" - also containing a school in a residential neighborhood, a "foster family" which apparently served as his "home away from home", and - most positively - a large number of new friends. This was the best aspect of his Heaven, as far as I was concerned, as Daniel had been troubled for his entire life by an inability to make many friends, and here he was almost too busy to visit with his family because of wanting to get on with his activities with his buddies!
I have often offered the circumstances of Daniel's death - fast and probably painless (as a friend remarked, "Daniel doesn't know he's dead yet"), and that he was able to donate many of his organs - as probable explanations to those who find me so "upbeat" since he died. I contrast this situation with other, well-publicized child kidnappings, murders, and (worst, in my opinion) those events which are never resolved.
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