By Alice Sebold
Back Bay Books / Little, Brown and Company / Time Warner Book Group / 1271 Avenue of the Americas / New York, NY 10020
First Printing: August 1999
Concept: “In a memoir hailed for its searing candor and wit, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was utterly transformed when, as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus. What propels this chronicle of her recovery is Sebold’s indomitable spirit – as she struggles for understanding (“After telling the hard facts to anyone, from lover to friend, I have changed in their eyes”); as her dazed family and friends sometimes bungle their efforts to provide comfort and support; and as, ultimately, she triumphs, managing through grit and coincidence to help secure her attacker’s arrest and conviction. In a narrative by turns disturbing, thrilling, and inspiring, Alice Sebold illuminates the experience of trauma victims even as she imparts wisdom profoundly hard-won: “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.”
Review: Ms. Sebold starts out this memoir with a very violent rape scene (what rape scene isn’t violent though right?) and I’ve read other reviewers complaints that it is very difficult to read. It wasn’t fun, that’s for sure, but we’re talking about a book whose subject matter is a violent crime. So I don’t understand that critique. Ms. Sebold has a very “matter of fact” tone throughout this book. We go with her as she deals with family and friends coming to terms with her rape, as she eventually goes into relationships with men, the trial and conviction of her rapist, and an aftermath tragedy as well. Ms. Sebold doesn’t ask for sympathy although my goodness, who wouldn’t sympathize with a woman who was raped? That’s it. That’s the story. It IS a memoir. You MUST remember that when picking up this book. It doesn’t have fluff or magic to it. It just is what it is. Most reviewers rate this book very well.
What I liked: Ms. Sebold is the author of The Lovely Bones, an excellent book. She actually started Lucky prior to Lovely Bones and had to return to it to finish it. It’s sort of an eerie thing because the Lovely Bones was about a child being molested and murdered even though it is a fictionalized accounting. Perhaps Ms. Sebold’s perspective for The Lovely Bones (told from a dead girl’s point of view) came from a very qualified position. I couldn’t help but think of that while I was reading the book. I liked that the book was honest. It made me cringe at times. It made me consider what I would do in certain positions which thankfully, I have never been in. I like that the book made me look inside myself.
What I disliked: I sympathize with the author. I do. And the book IS a memoir. This is going to sound horrible given the subject of this book but I found the book to be extremely boring. I almost stopped caring at a few points. It wasn’t bad enough to make me stop reading, but I did not savor the words like I usually do with a good book. It just was a story of rape. I didn’t not find the author to have “triumphed” over anything really. She survived rape. She moved on in her life. It just was a black and white accounting of what many women go through on a sadly routine crime and many of them overcome it faced with worse obstacles. ::shrug:: I don’t know. This wasn’t my favorite book and I don’t know if I’d really recommend it to anyone UNLESS you really want to read about a crime and it’s after-effects.
My rating: 3 stars.
Reviewing for Book Lover's Hidewaway