Friday, May 23, 2014

Lucky: Book Review

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Lucky is an extremely intimate memoir by Alice Sebold, acclaimed author of The Lovely Bones. The memoir details her own violent rape and the trial of her rapist, in which the author had a leading role. As a young eighteen year old Syracuse University student, Alice's life is transformed. The reader comes to know Alice as she struggles with her new identity as "the girl who was raped."  Mostly when we think about rape we think that going through the traumatizing ordeal is the hard part, but everything after is so difficult as well. This is shown so acutely in Lucky: things like not being able to control people's reactions to what happened to you, feeling different and isolated without people around to support you, and being afraid all the time become momentous challenges from which Alice cannot escape. The reader sees Alice struggle through these issues and more as she tries to regain her sense of self.

This is a story that hits you right in the gut. It makes you uncomfortable. It's supposed to. Rape is a hard subject to talk about, especially when you getting down to the nitty gritty of it all, but at the same time, it is also necessary to talk about these sort of things. Rape, sexual harassment, and violence are prominent issues in many women's (and men's) lives... it's important to be able to talk about them and to help each other through these difficult moments.

I felt for the first few chapters that I was struggling to read Lucky. It felt almost too personal to read. And too painful. As a woman I felt a connection with Alice and with the feelings of vulnerability that pervaded the book to the point that it was overwhelming at times. I can emphasize with much of what Alice was feeling, though I have not been in her position. It was all too easy to imagine what she went through. I would love to read a man's perspective on this memoir, to see if they felt the same instantaneous connection that I did. 

I enjoyed Sebold' strong narrative and clear voice throughout the novel. She didn't have a victim's mentality in the story, she was not asking anyone to pity her, but instead approached the telling of her story with a lot of insight and humour. If anything, Sebold's story is a comment on being your own saviour- she learns that you cannot wait for anyone to save you; you need to save yourself. Despite the best intentions of her family, friends, rape support workers, professors, it was Alice who had to pull herself out of the situation she was in.

Lastly, I loved the title of the novel as a comment on rape as a societal issue... A cop tells her in the hours after her rape, she was "lucky" not to be killed. Sebold goes on to show that there is nothing lucky about her situation and that comments like that don't help. If anything they dismiss the magnitude of trauma that has just happened to someone in an acutely vulnerable position. 

Lucky by Alice Sebold is a difficult read for it's content, but it is also an important one. It is well worth the effort to read it and glean it's wisdom. 

Keep reading!

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