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Lucky: A Memoir

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The author describes the circumstances of her rape as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, the arrest and trial of her attacker, and her struggle to reclaim her shattered life


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The author describes the circumstances of her rape as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, the arrest and trial of her attacker, and her struggle to reclaim her shattered life

30 review for Lucky: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    This is what I remember. This is the first line in Lucky, Alice Sebold's memoir of her rape and its aftermath. It's the kind of first line that hooks you as you stand in the aisle of Barnes & Noble, or as you browse the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon. It's the kind of line that demands you read further. In five words, swollen with portentousness, it makes a lot of promises. An author needs to have a certain amount of guts to start a book like that. Alice Sebold has them and more. All the words This is what I remember. This is the first line in Lucky, Alice Sebold's memoir of her rape and its aftermath. It's the kind of first line that hooks you as you stand in the aisle of Barnes & Noble, or as you browse the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon. It's the kind of line that demands you read further. In five words, swollen with portentousness, it makes a lot of promises. An author needs to have a certain amount of guts to start a book like that. Alice Sebold has them and more. All the words that follow are testament to this; every page is an act of courage. The first thing that jumps out at you, even before that opening line, is the title: Lucky. Is that supposed to be ironic? Blackly humorous? Or, somehow, the truth? Sebold answers that question immediately, with a brief, lyrical prologue: In the tunnel where I was raped, a tunnel that was once an underground entry to an amphitheater, a place where actors burst forth from underneath the seats of a crowd, a girl had been murdered and dismembered. I was told this by the police. In comparison, they said, I was lucky...But at the time, I felt I had more in common with the dead girl than I did with the large, beefy police officers or my stunned freshman-year girlfriends. The dead girl and I had been in the same low place...During the rape my eye caught something among the leaves and glass. A pink hair tie. When I heard about the dead girl, I could imagine her pleading as I had, and wondered when her hair had been pulled loose from her hair tie...I will always think of her when I think of the pink hair tie. I will think of a girl in the last moments of her life. Since Lucky was published back in 1999, Alice Sebold has gone on to great fame and fortune as the author of The Lovely Bones. That 2002 novel was on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year. As with any pop cultural phenomenon, however, there was an inevitable backlash. These days, it's hard to find people who can say a kind word about it. Eight years and a subpar film later, it has become easy to pretend that we were never moved. But in that passage above, you see all of Sebold's gifts on display. She's not a complicated stylist; rather, she hits her emotional beats by dint of perception. She captures the small details that can raise the hair on the back of your neck. And in every sentence you see the catharsis. I am not a huge fan of memoirs. I think everyone has a story, and everyone is entitled to tell it, but I'm just not going to read it. Unless you're a president, or a war hero, or the guy who invented Diet Pepsi, you probably don't need to publish a memoir. I don't like reading books about people with whacky families or who were heroic recreational drug users. That's not unique, and it's seldom enlightening. Rather, it smacks of calculation. A way to get Harper Collins to give your rough draft a look-see. Hey, I'm a talented writer who needs a break. What should I do? Maybe I'll snort a line of heroin off that prostitute's buttocks and write about that... Those thoughts - admittedly cynical - never slipped into my mind while reading Lucky. It didn't feel commercialized; it wasn't manipulative. It was therapy. There's no other way to describe it. Sebold writes nakedly about an intensely private violation in cringing detail. You can almost see her dissociating in front of you, allowing her to write with a kind of reportorial detachment. The opening pages are unforgettable, as Sebold graphically and unflinchingly describes her sexual assault. At times her writing is clinical, at times, oddly poetic. She alternates smoothly between short, simple, punchy sentences, and flighty, novelistic turns-of-phrase. For instance, during the rape, she wrenchingly describes being forced to give oral sex. Here, the prose is dry, workmanlike, almost like the transcript of a court proceeding: just the facts, as they happened. And maybe that's the only way it could have been written, because the detail is so precise, you want to look away. To have veered away from objectivity might have been unbearable. (Even so, it often felt like an invasion of privacy to be reading this, almost like you've opened a super secret diary). Then, smoothly, Sebold will shift styles, such as the way she describes how she talked to her rapist: "I forgive you," I said. I said what I had to. I would die by pieces to save myself from real death. The beginning of Lucky is like a punch in the gut. Its honesty and power leaves you drained. You will read it in one gulp of air, unable to stop to breathe. Of course, that tension cannot be maintained. Nor should it. The rest of Sebold's story is about coming to grips with that moment, and the way she tells this story expresses, in its way, what it felt like for her to put life back together. There is a certain feeling of anticlimax in the writing that mimics Sebold's post-traumatic stress. She struggles with shame, alienation, and the eventual trial of her rapist. And out of nowhere, there's even a cameo by Tobias Wolff (!). If you come by this book, it's probably for one of two reasons: first, you liked The Lovely Bones; second, you have a personal need for Sebold's insights. Adult rape is a hard crime to classify. It's easy to get tangled up in legal arguments about consent, or to reduce its seriousness by hinting that the victim somehow had it coming. Even with DNA, it's a crime that is often impossible to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. Yet in a very real way, rape is as serious as murder. It spares the finite of a person's body, while destroying the infinite of the soul. This is why I read Lucky. The first girlfriend I ever had in college was raped at a frat house. We were both freshmen, a few months into our first semester, still in that sheltered bubble of youth, where bad things only happen to strangers. She went out with friends, I made the decision to stay in and study. Thus, for me, the first lesson of college: the choices you make can be the choices you cannot unmake. I didn't see her again for a couple days. I heard the news, of course, but she was busy with those things you hope you never know. Later, after the late-night trip to the hospital, and the rape kit, and the meeting with detectives from the sex crimes unit, and a phone call home that I can't imagine but have spent many hours imagining, I went to visit her in her dorm room. When I saw her, she was cowering in the corner, and the look in her eyes, that mingling of fear and alertness, is something that I've never forgotten. (The only thing I can compare it to is my dog, Henry, who I rescued from a shelter; when I first got him, whenever I raised my voice, he got that same slinking, terrified look, as though waiting for his next beating). As a man, I'm genetically incapable of understanding what the experience meant for her. Indeed, unless I'm convicted of a felony, I probably never will. All I'd ever know was the external stuff: how we broke up; how she walked about campus with a certain listlessness; how she started smoking and drinking and doing things she hadn't done before; and how she dropped out of school a year later, and disappeared into the rest of her life, while I stayed with the rest of mine. It would be insulting to think my imaginative powers could conjure a fraction of her reality, though it has never stopped me from trying. So when I picked up this book, long after my freshman year had passed, I did so with purpose. I wanted to read this for her.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    In Lucky, Alice Sebold recounts the night she was raped and how that event and its consequences reverberated throughout her life. The first chapter of this book made me feel ill, so major warning to readers that there is intense detail about rape and assault right from the very start. However, I thought Sebold's frankness was very important to her story. She tells it exactly like it is, and it was interesting to see how she handled herself in and out of the courtroom—especially for someone so yo In Lucky, Alice Sebold recounts the night she was raped and how that event and its consequences reverberated throughout her life. The first chapter of this book made me feel ill, so major warning to readers that there is intense detail about rape and assault right from the very start. However, I thought Sebold's frankness was very important to her story. She tells it exactly like it is, and it was interesting to see how she handled herself in and out of the courtroom—especially for someone so young. This book made me furious and sad, and for good reason. How rape victims are treated by 'the system' is infuriating. And, like the book and ill-spoken words of the police officers said of Sebold, she was relatively 'lucky' with her situation. Of course, no one raped is ever lucky. But I can't even begin to imagine the countless cases that are unreported or not believed daily. So sickening and sad, but this story is one woman's strong and steady voice that should be listened to.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amy B.

    Maybe you have to be a survivor to really appreciate this book. Maybe that is why I could not put this book down. Even though what happened to me was not violent, nor did I report it, I still went through many of the emotions, inner dialogue, and relationship changes and challenges Alice went through in the long aftermath, and I really enjoyed comparing the similarities and differences in our experiences. I felt myself choke up several times throughout this book because even when it seems she sh Maybe you have to be a survivor to really appreciate this book. Maybe that is why I could not put this book down. Even though what happened to me was not violent, nor did I report it, I still went through many of the emotions, inner dialogue, and relationship changes and challenges Alice went through in the long aftermath, and I really enjoyed comparing the similarities and differences in our experiences. I felt myself choke up several times throughout this book because even when it seems she should be doing well -- she won her case, made what seemed like true friends, was able to have healthy relationships -- we see how easily her life crumbled again. In the first several years after a rape, everything seems to come back to the rape and what it did to one's self-esteem and general philosophy. It changes everything you've come to expect from life ("It won't happen to me, smart girls don't get raped."). I went through a self-destructive phase as did Alice; I was with men who were degrading in not so obvious but nonetheless damaging ways, as was Alice. But there is life after rape, and that is the one thing I was left wanting from this book -- I wish she delved into how long it took her to not think about the rape on a daily basis anymore; when and how she met her husband; what she plans to reveal/conceal to her children (if she has any). It's hard to know how someone who has not been through the R-word would take a book like this, thinking it is too exhibitionistic or histrionic, perhaps a cry for attention or a way to say "This is why I'm worthy of a memoir and your personal tragedies are not." I'm not sure how well this book would educate non-victims either since it is so personal, rather than a rape-crisis-center-type pamphlet ("what to say/not to say to a victim"). But Sebold does depict the range of reactions, and sometimes I find her responses to the "bad reactors" a little curt, like she was built more for emotional survival than I was -- or maybe it is the other way around? In any case, as a survivor, and having also read 'The Lovely Bones' and enjoying Sebold's style, this was a great read for me. (One more thing: I might not recommend it for people still in the 'victim' stage, too real and raw and who knows what dangerous emotions and crazy thought processes it might provoke, as similar literature did to me in my early stages of recovery).

  4. 4 out of 5

    stephanie

    i read this before i read Lovely Bones, in part because i wanted to see how she dealt with her own history, in part because well, i'm a sucker for memoirs. i classify this as a crazypeoplememoir not lightly - my definition of "crazy" is a little loose. alice sebold was raped by someone she didn't know as an undergraduate at syracuse university. what i love about this book is that sebold doesn't fall into the normal tradition of "victim" memoirs. she doesn't blame other people - even her attacke i read this before i read Lovely Bones, in part because i wanted to see how she dealt with her own history, in part because well, i'm a sucker for memoirs. i classify this as a crazypeoplememoir not lightly - my definition of "crazy" is a little loose. alice sebold was raped by someone she didn't know as an undergraduate at syracuse university. what i love about this book is that sebold doesn't fall into the normal tradition of "victim" memoirs. she doesn't blame other people - even her attacker. she accepts that this horrible thing happened to her, and then she tells her story of how she pulled herself out of the hole, how she fought against being a victim, how she fought with herself. she is no elizabeth wurtzel, and i love her for that. she doesn't take too much blame, and she doesn't push it off on others - it's the story of someone who has adjusted, who has had something horrible happened to them and come out on top. she didn't write this for pity, she wrote this because it was her story. and i fully respect her for that.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    When I first started reading ‘Lucky’ I thought that something was wrong with me. I mean, I get that there is this horrific rape within the first chapter and that NO ONE should have to go through what she went through, but I wasn’t feeling it. It was more like ‘oh, wow, that sucks’. Then, I started feeling worse because I thought of my soul has become a blackened prune pit residing near my left kidney. I was more into the fact that Tess Gallagher and Tobias Wolff were Alices’ professors than that When I first started reading ‘Lucky’ I thought that something was wrong with me. I mean, I get that there is this horrific rape within the first chapter and that NO ONE should have to go through what she went through, but I wasn’t feeling it. It was more like ‘oh, wow, that sucks’. Then, I started feeling worse because I thought of my soul has become a blackened prune pit residing near my left kidney. I was more into the fact that Tess Gallagher and Tobias Wolff were Alices’ professors than that poor Alice had to live through all this. Then, thanks to the good people on GoodReads I learned that there is a syndrome. Compassion Fatigue; A combination of being overwhelmed by the sheer number and scope of human disasters and atrocities, and numbed by the decontextualized manner in which they are presented by the media (thanks Abigail!) This in no way undermines the meat of the story, I'm just explaining my utter horror of discovering that I wasn't truly freaking out during this book. You can tell me something straight out and I’ll be blasé about it, but once you start to hint at an issue, I’m all over it. I think that as the book went on, it wasn’t so much a direct ‘I was raped’ story but more of a day to day life after with all the idiosyncrasies and patterns that emerge that drew me in. It reminds me a bit of Joan Didion’s ‘Year of Magical Thinking’. That same sort of despondency that you find when you know that there is no option but to just move on. So, there was a peak and then a valley and then a peak and then a valley and so on.. I would find myself not being able to put the book down during the time between the rape and the trial, watching Alice justify her actions and her drinking and not even commenting on the fact that it was an escape mechanism. But, following the trial, I was in that sort of valley stage, which, I suppose, is how life goes and it took me a bit longer to get through that. The ‘Aftermath’ section was strong, except at that point I think her use of choppy, six word sentences seem out of place. This is the stuff that should flourish, the drug use, the denial, the recovery. I appreciate her direct approach and lack of drama though. I won’t even pretend to understand what she went through and to write a memoir about it is extremely brave.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jaylin

    I feel so sad that I hated this book so much. It wasn't the subject because I've read books on this subject matter before but it drove me crazy how everything in her life, every moment became about her rape. To the the point that when her room mate was raped she made it about her own rape. No wonder she couldn't wait to get away from her. It was a bit insane actually. Every one she met she had to tell them about her rape, every guy, everyone one. It absorbed her. If they tried to support her she I feel so sad that I hated this book so much. It wasn't the subject because I've read books on this subject matter before but it drove me crazy how everything in her life, every moment became about her rape. To the the point that when her room mate was raped she made it about her own rape. No wonder she couldn't wait to get away from her. It was a bit insane actually. Every one she met she had to tell them about her rape, every guy, everyone one. It absorbed her. If they tried to support her she complained about how they did it, if they ignored her she complained about that. During the rape she made a vow that it would be apart of her forever and she kept it. She wrote poems about it, books about it and talked about it to anyone who would listen to her. She is right, she is a victim and I found myself wanting her to be more of an inspiration. She even took credit for a police officers promotion because of her rape case. As if he never did any other work to warrant a promotion. Then she would write about frivolous details of her college friends life that had nothing to do with anything. Ugh! I kept reading it in hopes that it would get better. Then her heroin use was just a after story? Are you serious? She glossed over it. This book has very little to do with surviving rape and reads more of a detail of her trial and hatred for her family and herself.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Xenia0201

    Brilliant. I was hooked from the first paragraph of the foreword but I had a very difficult time getting though the first chapter, where Sebold's rape was described in excrutiating detail. Remembering this is a memoir, it made me physically ill. I really admire the guts this woman has...she went right back to Syracuse and went on with her life, determined to get justice for what happened and reclaim her identity to be more than "that girl who was raped". I was appalled at the treatment she recei Brilliant. I was hooked from the first paragraph of the foreword but I had a very difficult time getting though the first chapter, where Sebold's rape was described in excrutiating detail. Remembering this is a memoir, it made me physically ill. I really admire the guts this woman has...she went right back to Syracuse and went on with her life, determined to get justice for what happened and reclaim her identity to be more than "that girl who was raped". I was appalled at the treatment she received...from her fellow students to the idiot psychiatrist her mother sent her to. The people in her life from her family to her friends, insist on treating Sebold as a victim and she obviously didn't want that role. She certainly has her dark moments but her strength won't allow you to feel bad for her for an instant. Odd to call this book inspirational, but it was...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Alice Sebold is an eighteen year old college freshman. Walking home from a party she is attacked this attack takes place not far from the campus. Alice is brutally raped and beaten she struggles as much as she can, but is threatened by her attacker that he will kill her is she doesn't do as she is told. After the attack she must deal with the aftermath of the trauma she has just endured. She reports it to the police where she will have to relive the whole attack again. Then of course there is her Alice Sebold is an eighteen year old college freshman. Walking home from a party she is attacked this attack takes place not far from the campus. Alice is brutally raped and beaten she struggles as much as she can, but is threatened by her attacker that he will kill her is she doesn't do as she is told. After the attack she must deal with the aftermath of the trauma she has just endured. She reports it to the police where she will have to relive the whole attack again. Then of course there is her parents and friends who she must also tell which is so hard not only for her, but her loved ones as well. After reporting it to the police she must find the strength to go ahead with legal proceedings. This is a very harrowing true story and one in which is quite difficult to read at times. The graphic, painful and disturbing details may be hard to read, but I feel it's a remarkable story of someone who finds the strength to survive such a horrific ordeal and continues to thrive and love again. Well worth a read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    An absorbing memoir about a college girl who was raped. The book covers the rape, the trial, and the very long recovery. Rape is an ugly and isolating act and the author takes you as close to it as is possible for someone never having experienced the trauma. It will take me awhile to get this story out of my head.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    It took me awhile to read this book, mostly because I had so little time, but I loved it. It was like reading my own story. I was so proud of how she stood up to her attacker, and always wished I could have. The time period was exactly the same, so it was eerily the same in a lot of ways. I also grew up in Syracuse, so I knew all the locations quite well and felt her story even more, if that's possible. You have a life before and a life after, and it's never the same again, no matter how hard yo It took me awhile to read this book, mostly because I had so little time, but I loved it. It was like reading my own story. I was so proud of how she stood up to her attacker, and always wished I could have. The time period was exactly the same, so it was eerily the same in a lot of ways. I also grew up in Syracuse, so I knew all the locations quite well and felt her story even more, if that's possible. You have a life before and a life after, and it's never the same again, no matter how hard you try.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Women's stories of their trauma aren't being told, their being sold. Here's a shining example. Women's stories of their trauma aren't being told, their being sold. Here's a shining example.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Catsalive

    A harrowing tale, indeed. "It is not just forcible intercourse; rape means to inhabit and destroy everything" (p.123). No wonder it had taken so long for Alice to come to terms with it. Such brutal destruction of everything one knew and was could not be overcome quickly or easily. I found I had to stop reading at intervals to recover my own equanimity. The reactions of the people surrounding her I found fascinating. What does one say to the victim? Certainly not "I guess this will make you less i A harrowing tale, indeed. "It is not just forcible intercourse; rape means to inhabit and destroy everything" (p.123). No wonder it had taken so long for Alice to come to terms with it. Such brutal destruction of everything one knew and was could not be overcome quickly or easily. I found I had to stop reading at intervals to recover my own equanimity. The reactions of the people surrounding her I found fascinating. What does one say to the victim? Certainly not "I guess this will make you less inhibited about sex now, huh?" (p.77). You'd think a therapist could have done better than that. I think I'd like to read The Lovely Bones again having read this memoir. I didn't give it much of a review or rating when I read it & I wonder if I would feel any different on a second reading. Terry Gross asks an interesting question at the end of Lucky: TG: I got the impression that the kind of moment-by-moment description of the brutality that's in your memoir is something you felt didn't belong in this new novel, in the description of the brutality that this fourteen-year-old face. AS: Yeah. I mean, the funny thing is that I did write the beginning of The Lovely Bones before I wrote my memoir, so the violent crime that occurs in Susie's life happened, in terms of writing about it, before a description of my own rape was written by me later. I think in order to separate the two stories, to make sure that Susie was not doing any of my work for me when I returned to the novel, I stopped to write Lucky. And one of the things that was very important for me to do was to get all the facts of my own case down, so they had been written, they existed whole in a whole other book, and I could go back to Susie and she could lead me where she wanted to take me and tell me her story in the way she wanted to tell it, as opposed to me feeling perhaps that I needed to really tell the real deal about every dtail of rape and violence. I did that in the memoir as opposed to the novel because I wanted my characters to rule the novel, not some sort of desire to talk about rape and reveal rape to readers. I thought this memoir was well-written and gripping, and despite the distressing content it was worth the effort.

  13. 5 out of 5

    M

    This was the last thing I ever intended to read, but Sebold's narrative really captured my attention. I was on Chapter 3 before I knew it, and just had to keep reading; I had to find out what happened. I actually got the rest of the book as an audiobook (got to Chapter 3 via online excerpts) and listened to Sebold herself narrate the story of how, when she was an 18 year old virgin coed at Syracuse University, she was brutalized, beaten, and viciously raped and sodomized one night on her way hom This was the last thing I ever intended to read, but Sebold's narrative really captured my attention. I was on Chapter 3 before I knew it, and just had to keep reading; I had to find out what happened. I actually got the rest of the book as an audiobook (got to Chapter 3 via online excerpts) and listened to Sebold herself narrate the story of how, when she was an 18 year old virgin coed at Syracuse University, she was brutalized, beaten, and viciously raped and sodomized one night on her way home. Not exactly the lightest of subjects, and told in very intimate detail to boot. But it is Sebold's wry and factual telling of her story that made me keep listening, even when it was difficult. This isn't a pity-me memoir, drenched in oversimplification and gratuitous tragedy. It is an important story that needs to be told, because as someone put it, a lot of people seem to still think that rape is just a form of bad sex. It was heartbreaking and disheartening to hear that even though Sebold had been through such a brutal ordeal, she was still getting asked questions by jurors like why she went through the park at night. Her own father asked her how she could have "allowed" the rape to happen, since her perpetrator wasn't holding the knife to her throat the entire time? I got so angry about how she was treated, this visibly beaten human being, who wasn't believed by the police officer who took her statement (he thought there was more to her story than what she was telling him, as in he thought she was at one point a willing participant--can you imagine???), and who had to be the calm one who held her family together (nobody wanted to be at the grand jury proceeding or the trial, though eventually her father deigned to go to the trial) because they just didn't know how to deal with what had happened at all. Neither, as you can imagine, did Sebold, who was able to identify her rapist and get him convicted and given the maximum sentence (25 years), but found that despite this form of closure, she was still haunted and traumatized by the events for 20 years, even as she attempted to convince herself emotions were bullshit and she was fine. I give Sebold credit for being frank and honest about the extent to which she deceived herself, about how she used alcohol and heroin and bad relationships to self-medicate, and I identify with her intellectual impatience with herself to be "over it". We know, though this book doesn't go into it, that Sebold eventually sought therapy, re-enrolled in school, met the love of her life (fellow novelist Glen David Gold) and wrote a bestselling first novel. After reading what happened to her at 18, I am left in awe of her strength and perseverance.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    As a grad student at Syracuse, this book definitely hits close to home. For this reason, I forbid my girlfriend to go to Marshall Street alone late at night (yeah, I am a chauvinistic knuckle-dragger). I feel that The Lovely Bones is really just a metaphor for this, the author's real experience with her rape as a college freshman at SU. I love the recognition and legitimacy of hatred in the author's recovery. "I want to fuck you with a knife," she writes of her rapist. Studies have shown where d As a grad student at Syracuse, this book definitely hits close to home. For this reason, I forbid my girlfriend to go to Marshall Street alone late at night (yeah, I am a chauvinistic knuckle-dragger). I feel that The Lovely Bones is really just a metaphor for this, the author's real experience with her rape as a college freshman at SU. I love the recognition and legitimacy of hatred in the author's recovery. "I want to fuck you with a knife," she writes of her rapist. Studies have shown where different economic classes interface, it is violent crime vice economic crimes that tend to experience the greatest rise. And yet Nancy Cantor is still all about her connective corridor so the ghettos of Syracuse can have direct access to the Univeristy. Great job, Chancellor! How about you conduct your social experiments in your own living room instead of using clueless 18-22 year old kids as your petri dish???

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I have to admit - I couldn't finish this book. Rarely do I not finish a book, but I just couldn't with this one. I normally love Alice Sebold's matter-of-fact writing style, but here, it failed. She described her rape and the events in her life that followed, but she kept saying that no one else can understand what it's like to be a victim of that kind of violence. I know that's true - I can never understand - but I'm reading this book to try to understand what it's like, and it's the job of the I have to admit - I couldn't finish this book. Rarely do I not finish a book, but I just couldn't with this one. I normally love Alice Sebold's matter-of-fact writing style, but here, it failed. She described her rape and the events in her life that followed, but she kept saying that no one else can understand what it's like to be a victim of that kind of violence. I know that's true - I can never understand - but I'm reading this book to try to understand what it's like, and it's the job of the author to use her gift of words to explain it to me. She never bothered. It felt more like she was writing the book in order to provide herself with a type of therapy, rather than to spread understanding to the reader.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Rape is at once both a simple and complext subject. Regardless of the victim and rapist, it ties, cuts, right to the heart of our views about gender. It is impossible to step this, and it has been used to inspire terror and as a form of punishment. It should be note that before I read this book, I had read the jezebel article about You Deserve Nothing, to which Ms. Sebold is connected. My reading of this book is most likely affected by that article. Sebold's story starts with an act that despite Rape is at once both a simple and complext subject. Regardless of the victim and rapist, it ties, cuts, right to the heart of our views about gender. It is impossible to step this, and it has been used to inspire terror and as a form of punishment. It should be note that before I read this book, I had read the jezebel article about You Deserve Nothing, to which Ms. Sebold is connected. My reading of this book is most likely affected by that article. Sebold's story starts with an act that despite its violence, its illegality, is simple. Simple because most acts are, because it is simply violent, because it is simply wrong. Sebold's graphic description of her rape makes the reader at once a unwilling quasi voyager while shattering and subverting all the romance novel fantasies. The complex follows afterward as Sebold details not only her reaction, but those of the police, the lawyers, her friends, her family, her community's (both college and home) reaction to her rape. This is both raw and compelling because it touches at the complex issues that lie at the hear of any reaction to rape. Even though Sebold's rape happened in 1981, all of what she deals with can still be found today. No, I'm not talking about just where rape is used as punishment or where women are killed by thier family or where women get thier virginity tested upon arrest. I'm talking every where. Here in Philadelphia, a female judge threw out rape charges because the woman who brought the charges had arranged to have sex for money with two of the men who "ran a train on her" (the total number was over five); therefore, according to the judge, she couldn't be raped, just robbed, and anyway she was asking for it. Even in "civilized" or "modern" countries, the victim, no matter how innocent faces accusation - what were you doing there, how were you dressed and so on. Society wants to blame him or her. Yes, him. Just because a young teenage boy sleeps with his teacher doesn't mean he is "lucky". Reverse the sexes, or think about Penn State. (And for the record, she seduced me, doesn't work when it is a 12 year old and fifty year old). It is to Sebold's credit that in this memoir she doesn't come across as particularly likable or admirable. Nor does she to want the reader's admiration or liking or, more importantly, pity. She doesn't want any of these things. She describes what is and what was. This is important, as important as those inspirational stories that we read in school. Everyday is as important as insipirational, especially when, considering the recent STATS, such attacks are, sadly, an everyday occurance.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I read Lucky not long after it was released. Alice Sebold deserves credit for her sometimes graphic but realistic description of her horrible experience. I would have hoped that writing this book would have allowed her to get it out of her system so that she could move on with her life. Evidently, this is not the case. >> http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... I read Lucky not long after it was released. Alice Sebold deserves credit for her sometimes graphic but realistic description of her horrible experience. I would have hoped that writing this book would have allowed her to get it out of her system so that she could move on with her life. Evidently, this is not the case. >> http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nivedita

    The year is 1981. Alice Sebold experienced something which is nothing short of horrifying and traumatising. But she was above all of it, as fought through it at every step, never faltering and never hesitating. Her story brings about a number of messages, but the ones which struck hard are the ones that need to be brought out to the world. Talking about rape isn't easy. But, it has to be done. If not for us, then for others who find it hard to cope up with it. Sebold's story proved it. And as th The year is 1981. Alice Sebold experienced something which is nothing short of horrifying and traumatising. But she was above all of it, as fought through it at every step, never faltering and never hesitating. Her story brings about a number of messages, but the ones which struck hard are the ones that need to be brought out to the world. Talking about rape isn't easy. But, it has to be done. If not for us, then for others who find it hard to cope up with it. Sebold's story proved it. And as the society, if we don't support them, then what good are we? It is horrifying to read, but then again, Rape isn't supposed to be beautiful and dreamy. But it was inspiring. So inspiring that I urge every single one of you to read it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl Sorrentino

    Lucky by Alice Sebold is a haunting memoir with “sticking power”. I feel “lucky”—or I should say honored—to have read it. I thought I had a fair understanding of how rape affects victims, but after reading this book, I feel humbled by how little I really knew. Ms. Sebold opens with a graphic, blow-by-blow depiction of the rape itself. From there, she describes with painful honesty how being raped affected her, how beyond the PTSD, it “tainted” her, like a communicable disease. The treatment Ms. S Lucky by Alice Sebold is a haunting memoir with “sticking power”. I feel “lucky”—or I should say honored—to have read it. I thought I had a fair understanding of how rape affects victims, but after reading this book, I feel humbled by how little I really knew. Ms. Sebold opens with a graphic, blow-by-blow depiction of the rape itself. From there, she describes with painful honesty how being raped affected her, how beyond the PTSD, it “tainted” her, like a communicable disease. The treatment Ms. Seibold received in the aftermath of this crime will make you flinch, from police officers (one of whom, speaking of his niece who had likewise been a rape victim, cried, “She’s ruined! Ruined!") to her own psychiatrist (who had the audacity to say, “Well, I guess that will make you less inhibited about sex now, huh?”). I don’t know whether a memoir can contain “spoilers”. (view spoiler)[If so, then I suppose the subsequent rape of Ms. Sebold’s college housemate, perhaps as revenge for her having criminally prosecuted her attacker, could be labeled as such. With that second heinous crime, Ms. Sebold was silently and indirectly blamed; she lost her closest friend and supporter. After having the guts and determination to prevail against her rapist in court to have him locked up, the losses just kept piling on. (hide spoiler)] More than anything, this book shows just how much is lost—what is really taken from a woman when she is raped. The notion that some men would use their penises and strength to rob a woman of her very personhood, her right to feel secure in her skin, is infuriating to me, as it should be to anyone. Ms. Seibold found an outlet for this fury in her poetry, which triggered a cascade of reactions among her college classmates. Ms. Sebold’s bravery in pursuing her attacker is a story in itself. The fact that she wasn’t dressed “provocatively” and was a virgin at the time of the rape played well in her favor, which is its own travesty as neither of these things should matter. But even with those so-called “advantages”, she was subjected to a grueling and humiliating cross-examination designed to weaken her resolve and chip away at her confidence. Those courtroom scenes were painful to read; I wanted to kill the defense attorney. I would place this book in the category of “must-read” due to the importance of its subject matter for both men and women; its raw honesty; and the underlying hope and radiance of spirit it conveys. In the end, it was an uplifting, if bittersweet story and I thank Ms. Sebold for her courage in sharing it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Turner

    DNF I’ve said this before about memoirs, and I’ll say it again…they need to be believable. If you tell me something, which I doubt very much to be true, then I’m going to take it that the whole book is a fabrication. Page 13 on my laptop… “He began to knead his fist against the opening of my vagina. Inserted his fingers into it, three or four at a time. Something tore. I began to bleed there. I was wet now. It made him excited. He was intrigued. As he worked his whole fist up into my vagina and pump DNF I’ve said this before about memoirs, and I’ll say it again…they need to be believable. If you tell me something, which I doubt very much to be true, then I’m going to take it that the whole book is a fabrication. Page 13 on my laptop… “He began to knead his fist against the opening of my vagina. Inserted his fingers into it, three or four at a time. Something tore. I began to bleed there. I was wet now. It made him excited. He was intrigued. As he worked his whole fist up into my vagina and pumped it…” I don’t believe it! That’s not an easy thing to achieve, especial when the victim is an 18-year-old virgin. It also takes time. Ask any woman who’s given birth; it’s a tight fit in there. So, no…not reading any further.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I picked this book up when I was living in Ireland, actually. I read the first five pages just standing in the bookstore and I was hooked. Unfortunately, I didn't have the money to buy it at the moment, so I put it on my mental "to-read" list. Just before I left for camp for the summer, I found it at my boyfriend's parents' house and started it again. This book is very realistic in the fact that it has no happy ending; it isn't really a beginning, middle and end sort of story. It follows the life I picked this book up when I was living in Ireland, actually. I read the first five pages just standing in the bookstore and I was hooked. Unfortunately, I didn't have the money to buy it at the moment, so I put it on my mental "to-read" list. Just before I left for camp for the summer, I found it at my boyfriend's parents' house and started it again. This book is very realistic in the fact that it has no happy ending; it isn't really a beginning, middle and end sort of story. It follows the life of the author after she suffers the brutality of a terrible rape. Sebold is very blunt about what happened to her, to a point that it's difficult to read at times. Understanding that this is a real event and not a scene created for a fictional character is pretty gut-wrenching. The most fascinating thing about the book, however, is reading what happened to Sebold as she got further and further from this defining event in her life. Dealing with her family, her friends and even perfect strangers became incredibly hard for her after the rape. I enjoyed reading this book to a certain point. It seemed to just lose its momentum toward the end, and I began to lose interest after the first half of the book. I would recommend it to other women, because it is an eye-opening read. I never imagined that rape itself was not the worst part of such an event. Instead, it's all the horrible things you have to endure after the rape that make it so difficult to bear. It's terrible to understand that, but at the same time, it's interesting to learn about from a psychological standpoint.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tânia

    The first line of the book: “This is what I remember…” The last line (implied): “This is what I’ll never forget…” “The Lovely Bones” was how I first heard of Alice Sebold, first the movie, and then the book. Unfortunately I wasn’t as much fascinated by the book as I was with the movie, which I think captured the real essence of what was supposed to be the book. “Lucky”, a true account of the brutal assault and rape of Alice Sebold, was the precedent to “The Lovely Bones”, her first novel. I was im The first line of the book: “This is what I remember…” The last line (implied): “This is what I’ll never forget…” “The Lovely Bones” was how I first heard of Alice Sebold, first the movie, and then the book. Unfortunately I wasn’t as much fascinated by the book as I was with the movie, which I think captured the real essence of what was supposed to be the book. “Lucky”, a true account of the brutal assault and rape of Alice Sebold, was the precedent to “The Lovely Bones”, her first novel. I was immediately intrigued and surprised, I must admit, that someone would open a personal book for the whole world about such a tough subject. Now that I’ve read it, I think this worked as some closure for her. Because I was so shocked, I never got past the first few pages of the book, and kept putting it aside for some other time. The main reason was that I already knew I would be living horrible things with 18-year-old Alice Sebold. Her raw descriptions of the rape were so disturbing I had to stop myself a couple of times to regain composure. When you read something like this you start asking questions that you can’t really give an answer to. While I was reading this book I kept thinking I was inside a nightmare, and once I woke up I’d be free… but am I really? Is she? The author’s strength is inspiring, and this book is an empowering testimony. Though I’m not so sure this is a nightmare you can wake up from, one thing I know… Alice Sebold survived.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Mixed feelings on this one. I was with her most of the way, but the part towards the end where her friend is raped really, really bothered me -- at that point the story, for me, stopped being a straightforward account of "this is my rape, this is my trial, this is what happened to me" and started to get, as one commenter below wrote angrily, holier-than-thou. Sebold writes effectively about people having inappropriate reactions to her experience, but didn't seem able to recognize-- at the time, Mixed feelings on this one. I was with her most of the way, but the part towards the end where her friend is raped really, really bothered me -- at that point the story, for me, stopped being a straightforward account of "this is my rape, this is my trial, this is what happened to me" and started to get, as one commenter below wrote angrily, holier-than-thou. Sebold writes effectively about people having inappropriate reactions to her experience, but didn't seem able to recognize-- at the time, or later, even -- that, for her friend, Sebold's reactions felt inappropriate. Maybe it's unfair of me, but she lost my sympathy at that point -- it felt in a weird way like she was appropriating her friend's rape because she hadn't really processed her own. Reminded me of how, on and just after 9/11, news reporting felt fresh and unspun, and then after a few days, reporting went back to the same tired "angle" mongering. The "Aftermath" section didn't work for me at all -- too choppy, too "look what a bad girl I turned into." Disappointing end to what had started off as a powerful narrative.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    It was interesting reading this true story after "The Lovely Bones" (this was her first published book) as now I see where her obsession with interlacing violence with the mundane world comes from. This was an interesting read but felt more like a recitation of fact, of the drill you go through as a rape victim, rather than an exploration of her mutilated sexuality, as she suggests. I didn't feel the terror, the anguish, the paranoia but instead felt as if I were in fact at the police station go It was interesting reading this true story after "The Lovely Bones" (this was her first published book) as now I see where her obsession with interlacing violence with the mundane world comes from. This was an interesting read but felt more like a recitation of fact, of the drill you go through as a rape victim, rather than an exploration of her mutilated sexuality, as she suggests. I didn't feel the terror, the anguish, the paranoia but instead felt as if I were in fact at the police station going endlessly over the episode. When I think of it, that's sort of how she describes the rape/murder of the little girl in LB; perhaps that distance is what a victim needs to relay the incident but the reader experiences it as a distasteful, rotten piece of fruit (the raper apologizes and cries afterward) and fails to communicate how it lacerated her sense of self.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Pradolin

    One of the most fascinatingly written novels I've ever read. Alice Sebold goes into such brilliant detail about everything, and really elongates things she finds most valid and/or important. It's a must read! One of the most fascinatingly written novels I've ever read. Alice Sebold goes into such brilliant detail about everything, and really elongates things she finds most valid and/or important. It's a must read!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Diane in Australia

    An excellent book about Alice's brutal rape, and the distressing aftermath. It definitely touched my heart. 5 Stars = It made a significant impact. I won't forget it. An excellent book about Alice's brutal rape, and the distressing aftermath. It definitely touched my heart. 5 Stars = It made a significant impact. I won't forget it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brittany (whatbritreads)

    CONTENT WARNING: Extreme depictions of sexual assault. Please don’t pick this up if the content may upset you. Look after yourself lovelies x This book was extremely hard to read but I couldn’t put it down. It made me angry, it made me upset. Most importantly, it really made me understand. It was so beautifully written and heartbreakingly personal. Sebold really does have a way with words and such a talent for storytelling. This memoir was absolutely brutal but I’m glad I read it. It detailed the CONTENT WARNING: Extreme depictions of sexual assault. Please don’t pick this up if the content may upset you. Look after yourself lovelies x This book was extremely hard to read but I couldn’t put it down. It made me angry, it made me upset. Most importantly, it really made me understand. It was so beautifully written and heartbreakingly personal. Sebold really does have a way with words and such a talent for storytelling. This memoir was absolutely brutal but I’m glad I read it. It detailed the brutality of assault as well as the aftermath – the legal procedure, the outside judgements, her mental wellbeing and relationships. I don’t really have any sufficient words to ‘review’ this, so I’ll just leave it here. It’s a book that will stick with me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Wondracek

    It wouldn’t do justice to Lucky to call it a “rape memoir.” Though the events of the book cycle around Sebold’s rape she experienced as a college freshman, in a broader context her story deals with social attitudes and crime/justice. It takes a gifted writer to make brutal events into captivating memoirs; in stories that deal with a single trauma, first-person accounts tend to be so caught up feelings of aggression or grief that the emotions take precedence over the writing itself. Since Sebold It wouldn’t do justice to Lucky to call it a “rape memoir.” Though the events of the book cycle around Sebold’s rape she experienced as a college freshman, in a broader context her story deals with social attitudes and crime/justice. It takes a gifted writer to make brutal events into captivating memoirs; in stories that deal with a single trauma, first-person accounts tend to be so caught up feelings of aggression or grief that the emotions take precedence over the writing itself. Since Sebold wrote Lucky 20 years after the main incidents of the book, however, she was removed enough from the situation to be straightforward. With detail-oriented prose that doesn’t sugar-coat or euphemize, Sebold recalls facets of her life outside the rape, along with the facets that can’t help but be influenced by the rape. She doesn’t detail her emotions as much as she reveals how others respond to her. To me, the most compelling part of her story was the court case: how race came into play and how the defense played their game. I originally bought Lucky as part of a psychology class I was taking on the subject of human resilience, and though I didn’t finish the class, I picked up the book again months later. So while I was reading it I was questioning the process of resilience, I was drawn to something Sebold says in the beginning when she’s recalling the actual rape: she says that the women who claim they would rather die defeating rape than to be raped are fools; that you do what you have to do to get by. Though I think most of us would agree with her, what does that say about the resilience of those who don’t? Whoa.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan Haught

    I originally bought this book for research. My WIP (work in progress--a novel) centers on a rape victim, and I needed verification I was on the right track even though I based my character's background on an actual event. Sebold's story is the account of her own rape. It's raw and ugly, and hits you smack in the guts with its straightforward account. It's a story every woman (and man) should read. Although I'm happy I found this book, I'm so sorry it had to be written. Thank you, Ms. Sebold for I originally bought this book for research. My WIP (work in progress--a novel) centers on a rape victim, and I needed verification I was on the right track even though I based my character's background on an actual event. Sebold's story is the account of her own rape. It's raw and ugly, and hits you smack in the guts with its straightforward account. It's a story every woman (and man) should read. Although I'm happy I found this book, I'm so sorry it had to be written. Thank you, Ms. Sebold for your courage to stand up to your assailant and for having the guts to put your story out there for the world to read. I know it wasn't easy. I know you consider yourself LUCKY. And women everywhere are LUCKY to have people like you to stand up for those who, like Lila, can't find the strength to do so. God bless you always.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Praxedes

    This is a true hero story about a rape survivor. Sebold is a relentless storyteller; she does not forgive a single sentence as she recounts her ordeal during and after her assault. It is vivid, personal, and honest. I admit it was difficult to read at times...the violence, the apathy of others, the suffering...all had an effect on me. It is difficult to fathom the depth of human cruelty and/or indifference to others at such degrees.

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