by Alice Sebold

Paperback, 2002




Little, Brown and Co. (2002), Edition: Worn Condition


In this memoir, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was transformed when at age 18 she was raped and beaten in a park near her college campus.


½ (1444 ratings; 3.8)

User reviews

LibraryThing member SPutman
Lucky is Alice Sebold’s autobiography of her brutal rape when she was an 18-year-old Syracuse University freshman. Sebold, author of the popular fiction book The Lovely Bones, chose the title for her life story from a policeman who told her that another girl was murdered in the same spot and that
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Alice was “lucky” by comparison. This book stands out as more than a violent crime memoir because of her point of view and her style.
Point of View
Not only does Sebold's point of view enhance this narrative, but without it, this memoir would be much less effective. From the very first sentence (“This is what I remember.”), the author’s credentials as an expert are clear: It is her story, and she is going to tell it to you bluntly and with immense frankness. She takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride from her shame and self-loathing, on to her anger and hatred, through her months of sexual promiscuity and drug use and finally toward her healing. What emerges from this first-person account of a tragedy are bravery, self-confidence and hope despite the violence and subsequent heartbreak. Her point of view allows the reader to get a peek through her eyes; and whether or not the reader has been a victim of a violent crime, Sebold shows each of us how to cope with pain and loss and find our way back to wholeness. And finally, she speaks with authority as she becomes determined not to be beaten down and to see justice served.
The author’s style surely leaves its mark on the reader. This story is told with passion bordering on obsession as we watch the author unflinchingly go from unimaginable pain and desperation to triumph and determination. This precisely written memoir opens with the specific and explicit account of Sebold's rape and continues to be precisely detailed and chillingly honest throughout. Her word choice is plain and direct. Her style is frank ("You save yourself or you remain unsaved."), and she does not beat around the bush. The story is told simply and directly, with no excuses from the victim or theories from outside “experts.” And yet, in the midst of it all, Sebold’s quirky sense of humor brings light moments to this very heavy and bluntly told account. Family and friends bungle their attempts to comfort and support her, and she views their efforts with wit. Her style clearly reveals a story that is disturbing and thrilling, and yet inspiring as the reader roots for the author to get past her sense of betrayal, hurt, and lost trust.
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LibraryThing member jehara
this was a very good, intriguing and difficult read. it details the author's experience of her rape at age eighteen near syracuse university, which she attended. the opening pages start immediately with her walk home from a last day of school party and subsequent attack. it is told in journalistic
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detail. very objective, somewhat cold and very brutal. this was the hardest part to read. i was right there with her. felt her pain and shock and fear. the story follows her closely in the immediate aftermath. her trip to the dorm, the call to the police, the medical examination. the thing that struck me the most about this book is all the details you don't really think about when you read or hear about these things happening to people. the excruciating detail of the experience. the whispers, the reactions of others. the way she is gossiped about. the way she becomes defined by the rape in the eyes of others. she lost alot of friends along the way. the book mainly focuses on the year following the rape. when she arrives back at school the following semester (to most people's surprise) she spots her rapist on the street a month later, which springboards her into action. she goes to the police, he is arrested and proceedings begin. she makes it all the way to the grand jury and she ultimately wins. but not without a price. her best friend and roommate is raped in alice's bedroom not too long after. the police suspect it is a revenge rape but they will never know because the girl opts out of pursuing legal proceedings. her friendship with alice quickly deteriorates after that.
it is a fascinating read. it is almost like watching a movie or csi in the detail she includes about her trial. especially the cross examinations. it is fascinating to be right there with her and that smarmy defense attorney, knowing what she is thinking in response to his attacks, her sharp focus, her quick mind, her steely determination. the author has seen a lot of tragedy in her early life. it made me feel sad and somehow lucky that i have not experienced such outside violence. but i have experienced enough of it inside the borders of friends and family that i suppose it could be construed as a simple cosmic relief. it made me think of a friend i met recently who experienced a brutal rape right outside her home while she was walking her dog. i felt renewed horror for her now having a stirred up imagination for what that night must have been like for her.
i was really surprised at the way people reacted to her. how people didn't feel she had the right to return to school. that by doing so she somehow was admitting fault. a boy she met and shared a mutual attraction with was immediately pulled aside by a group of boys, asking him, you know she was raped right? yeah, so? do i have to spell it out for you?
the injustice of being so judged for a crime that she did not ask for. that happened TO her.
this book is not a dry, factual read. it is a compelling story of humanity and one person's struggle to recover from a trauma and remain herself. my favorite line in the whole book is "Nobody can save you. You save yourself or you remain unsaved."
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LibraryThing member piemouth
Memoir about being raped, as a college freshman. This is a subject that's really scary and emotional for me - all my life, as far back as I can remember, I've been terrified of rape and worried about it. Her description of the rape itself was hard to read. But then it goes into how she went back to
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school and eventually testified against the rapist, and other parts were sort of lighter than I expected. At the trial when she's testifying and the defense lawyer tries to rattle her but doesn't, I wondered where that strength came from, but she just treats it matter of factly and doesn't seem surprised by it.
Her family was fucked up too, which was more upsetting than the rape in some ways – her mom had a history of panic attacks and simply couldn't come to be with her during the trial, and her father didn't make time to get away from his work. That seemed really sad.
The most interesting part of the book was near the end when a close friend is raped and she feels all ready to help ("If I got through this, you can too") but she can't help, and it pulls them apart.
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LibraryThing member writestuff
Alice Sebold has written a searingly honest and brutally explicit memoir about what it is like to experience rape ... and then how to move forward through life following such a savage attack. This is not an enjoyable read. It shocked me. Made me angry. Made me weep for what was stolen from Ms.
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Sebold on the night she was raped. And scared the wits out of me.

Alice Sebold writes with a rawness that is uncomfortable for the reader. She reveals the coldness of the legal and medical systems in how they deal with rape victims. And ultimately she demonstrates the strength of self a victim needs to survive this type of crime.

A book like Lucky is one that is difficult to read, but I believe it is an important book. I imagine it took Ms. Sebold a tremendous amount of courage to write it. I turned the last page with a new found understanding of what it truly means to be a survivor.

Recommended with a warning that some sections are graphic and disturbing.
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LibraryThing member bkwriter4life
The best memoir I've ever read; this book had me on the edge of my seat as if this was a thriller. Alice Sebold's prose is hauntingly beautiful in which the words enrapture your spirit and soul while sucking you into her world. At the end of the novel, you are left with the same feeling she has:
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Written so damn well. I want her to write more memoirs!
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LibraryThing member emigre
Unforgettable, haunting, hard-to-read, "Lucky" is a memoir that will stay with you for a long time. There's no feel-good answer nor a neat conclusion, just a stream of raw emotion seeping through the pages.
LibraryThing member Brandie
It was a hard book for me to read. I had to read it slowly because sometimes I just needed to stop and take a break.
LibraryThing member Angelic55blonde
Oh my god, this is an amazing book. It's a memoir of Alice Sebold's rape and her how she picked up the pieces of her life after it. It's a great read for rape survivors, friends/family members of rape survivors, and just the general public. Ms. Sebold is brutally honest and give a fully detailed
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account of what happened, which is difficult to read and I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to write. She is a brave, strong woman and this is a great book. It's heavy and sad at times but it is something that should be read. This book is one of my favorites because it means a great deal to me personally and it is a great addition to the literature out there.
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LibraryThing member RavenousReaders
From the harrowing opening pages—a brutal rape scene—this brave memoir reads, at times, more like a literary thriller. Sebold’s story unfolds through the crime’s aftermath, her recovery, and a frustrating journey through the judicial system as she and the police search for her attacker. The
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pacing is superb throughout, as in when Sebold actually spies her attacker on the street for the first time and fights off panic to call her case detective. The author expertly weaves relevant moments from childhood through present-day events. Lucky is the real-life roots to Sebold’s award-winning novel The Lovely Bones.

Reviewed by: John
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LibraryThing member MeganS
A tough read, but a good one. Read this after 'The Lovely Bones' - a very different book tho.
LibraryThing member pugterranian
From the harrowing opening pages—a brutal rape scene—this brave memoir reads, at times, more like a literary thriller. Sebold's story unfolds through the crime's aftermath, her recovery, and a frustrating journey through the judicial system as she and the police search for her attacker. The
Show More
pacing is superb throughout, as in when Sebold actually spies her attacker on the street for the first time and fights off panic to call her case detective. The author expertly weaves relevant moments from childhood through present-day events. Lucky is the real-life roots to Sebold's award-winning novel The Lovely Bones.
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LibraryThing member carissa8402
Another great book. Truly heartbreaking. She had the courage though to do what needed to be done. Kudos to her!
LibraryThing member survivingniki
Kudos for Sebold for tackling such a subject as her rape. The first
part of the novel was extremely gripping. Her descriptions of the rape,
and her early childhood scenes including the maxi-pad loving dog
qualified as very fine writing indeed. The part of the trial was
page-turning. However the story
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after that left much to be desired. The
parts of the story about Lisa's rape and her bingeing and lover-filled
later years left me feeling completely unconnected to her recovery
experience, and indeed doubting (if it's my place to doubt) that she
has completed the healing. So for courage and the quality of writing in
the beginning of the novel I give it three stars.
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LibraryThing member KarenAJeff
Very powerful. I think it took great courage to write this memoir.
LibraryThing member goldiebear
I tried reading this book once, but for some reason I put it down. (same thing happened when I tried to read Lovely Bones) But, I am glad I picked it back up. I really got back into the story line once I started reading it again. What I can't believe is that it is all true! I was amazed. It's quite
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the story. At times it was a little wordy and there was too much explanation of certain things, but once I got past that and used to the style, it went pretty smoothly. Good read.
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LibraryThing member bibliophile26
Having thoroughly enjoyed The Lovely Bones (if you haven't read it, go to buy it NOW), I picked up the author's memoir. The book opens with her being raped when she is a freshman in college and details the rape trial, the rest of her college education and ends 10 years after the rape. Both Lucky
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and The Lovely Bones open with a rape scene...I wish I had read Lucky first so that I could have picked up on the autobiographical elements of The Lovely Bones. May I say that it was completely fucked up the way Lila stopped talking to Alice after she was raped. It was as if she blamed Alice for her own rape, although Alice did come on a little strong with the "join the rape victims club" vibe. I thought the contrast between the two girls was interesting...Alice was the strong, empowered woman who made sure her rapist was put behind bars while Lila did what so many victims do, hide from it and refuse to prosecute. I recommend this book to every woman...Alice is a remarkable role model for rape victims. The book is raw and at often times is a relief that the issue is dealt with so honestly.
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LibraryThing member ablueidol
Gives hope to all rape victims by naming the pain and showing that recovery will happen and that justice is possible
LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
Harrowing, involved, frightening and heartbreaking story of Alice's Rape and the fallout that happened afterwards. Her experince at her rape trial was harrowing reading and I can't imagine it was any better in person.
Although it kind of glosses over some of her later experiences I'd say that it's
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been a long uphill battle to any real improvement.
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LibraryThing member SuzannaQ
I both cringed and laughed out loud to this book. Interesting to read after first reading "Lovely Bones." Quick and easy regardless of the subject matter.
LibraryThing member kaitlynmarie
A brave memoir based on Sebold's rape by a stranger as a college freshman and its aftermath. There are no holds barred in her telling of this story, of the night that undid her and her long, arduous attempt to get herself back together. Graphic and honest and not easy to get through, this book is
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an important read though not a particularly pleasurable one. Sebold opens up in a way that rape victims rarely do, and takes her story far from being a dark secret by sharing the details of her grieving process, the reactions of her family and friends, her subsequent legal trial. For a matter that is so often brushed under the rug, whether for the sake of the perpetrator or the victim, I believe this book is groundbreaking. It doesn't make the subject matter any easier to digest, though.
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LibraryThing member Jacey25
One of the most difficult things to read I've ever picked up. So gut grabbingly realistic I felt like I was living through it with her. Reccomended for everyone impacted by rape
LibraryThing member mbatac
Heartbreaking, raw and unbelievably emotional. I thought the author did an amazing job of telling this story. It was real - no holds barred.
LibraryThing member hellonicole
Getting right to the point, Alice Sebold opens her memoir recalling her rape at Syracuse University. She details what happened after, the trial, and life beyond. She's refreshingly open, honest while describing her reactions, her families reactions, and the reactions of everyone else around her.
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The details themselves are not the easiest to read, especially when you remind yourself this is not a work of fiction, but what really happened to the author, but it is a good read and very eye-opening.
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LibraryThing member Scratch
A Vogue reviewer is quoted in a back-cover blurb describing the book as "funnier than you'd think was possible." Funny?? Did we read the same book? Not funny at all, it's horrifying and sad and a remarkably even-handed memoir of an (almost) unspeakable trauma.
LibraryThing member whirled
Lucky is the true account of novelist Alice Sebold's savage rape whilst a student at Syracuse University in the early '80s. With incredible candour and occasional dashes of odd and jarring humour, Sebold retraces her long and potholed road to recovery. It's not an easy read, and Sebold's parents -
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the mother a recovering alcoholic and the father an incredibly insensitive fop who at one point asked Alice why she didn't just run away from her attacker - are just two of many unpleasant characters readers will encounter.
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Original language


Original publication date



0316096199 / 9780316096195
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