Emily's Reviews > Lucky

Lucky by Alice Sebold
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's review
Sep 09, 07

Recommended for: No one
Read in March, 2003

Sebold, you self-righteous narrator, you. It's been four years since I've read this book, and your holier-than-thou survivor's mentality still infuriates me.
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Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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Dylann You have to have a survivors mentality or you will end up feeling like a victim. Sadly there is rarely a happy medium.

message 2: by Lydia (new)

Lydia Chiussi What a callous thing to write...wow.

Emily What I found to be more callous was when Sebold ended a friendship with a girl who had been raped because the girl refused to report the crime. I'd like to think that being a survivor would make a person more sensitive to the complexities of sexual abuse and the intense scrutiny one faces upon reporting it, but Sebold's tone throughout is exactly as I described: self-righteous.

message 4: by Rhi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rhi The friend in question ended the relationship with Sebold. No judgement either way saying she was completely right or wrong, but it was not her decision to end the friendship with Lila.

the scarecrow @Lydia Seconded. Having been sexually abused for most of my cihldhood, I find Alice's behavior to be perfectly understandable, and I applaud her courage wholeheartedly.

Amandajane Wow. That's pretty brutal. No one can dictate how a woman is supposed to react/feel/exist/continue living her life after a man violently destroys the most intimate and sacred part of you. You change. You behave irrationally. Hopefully, eventually you heal and maybe writing a raw, painfully honest account about helps with that. She called the book "Lucky" for a reason...

Amandajane You can never ever assume, predict, or assign feelings or reactions to another person who has experienced the most horrific violation of a human that is possible. It is completely arrogant/naive/sad that you (and other women) would try to evaluate what she went through and not support it.

Emily Guys, guys, guys. Believe it or not I *agree* with you! @Amandajane, when you say that you "can never ever assume, predict, or assign feelings or reactions to another person who has experienced the most horrific violation of a human that is possible," I couldn't agree more! I saw Sebold's treatment of her friend as exactly what you're describing. She pushed her into reporting the crime and, when she didn't, cast her aside as a friend instead of understanding the complexities of surviving, healing from, and reporting sexual assault. I'm arguing (nonviolently, may I add, so please go away @Shayla) that Sebold is the one who was heartless and insensitive and demanding of her friend who had gone through a similarly horrific trauma.

Natasha @Emily It wasn't Alice that ended the friendship. It was Lila that said she didn't want to see her again after she continuously tried to get in touch with her. I just finished the book and I think she was very honest in describing what she went through. Cheers!

Amanda Wiltsey She told her story, you don't get to re-write history. And unless you have been through it you have no right to judge, you don't have to like her book but you have no right to judge her feelings or actions after being assaulted. I wish I would have handled myself the way she did!

message 11: by Amy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy although i agree this was not a book i enjoyed reading, im not sure u understood what happened with her friend lila! she didnt push lila at all to
report her rape! yes she told her she should and didnt understand when she said she didnt want 2, but that was the end of that! she wanted 2 stay friends and she tried pretty hard 2 make it happen, but lila is the one that walked away and moved out of their apartment, she was the one who didnt want 2 b friends! 2 say alice is heartless and that she just cast her friends aside is simply not true, and not at all she said happened!

message 12: by Joy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joy Pasini @Emily- your memory of the story is wrong, as several people have pointed out. Alice was devastated when she lost the friendship with Lila. Lila stopped being Alice's friend. It's rather silly to condemn an author for your own misreading of the book.

Jessica It's kind of funny that the books bothers you 4 years later when you didn't even remember the details correctly. lol?

message 14: by Emily (new) - rated it 1 star

Emily While it may have been her fried who ended the relationship (which, by the way, I do remember), I understood her decision to be a result of Alice's emphatic persistence that she pursue legal action against her assailant. If I were suffering the psychological trauma of having been raped and had a friend insisting I process it the way she had, I think I'd step away from that relationship too. But, like all literature, I suppose it's up for interpretation, but I'd recommend revisiting the book with this in mind. You might see something else there.

message 15: by Jessica (last edited Aug 09, 2012 09:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jessica Your understanding is not based on fact though. Sebold simply did not persist that her friend pursue legal action. It's unclear why her friend ended the relationship (because the author herself doesn't know) but I get the impression it was just too painful for Lila. Sebold was someone who wanted to talk and be there for her but some people just want to forget it and go on with their life. There's nothing wrong with either approach, and personally I get where Lila might be coming from. I can understand why Lila wouldn't want to be around Sebold anymore, and I can understand why Sebold was hurt. I don't know where you get self-righteous and holier than thou, and I think it's weird that that's what you got out of the book. I think you're the one who needs to revisit the book and she just how persistent Alice was that her friend pursue legal action.

message 16: by Emily (new) - rated it 1 star

Emily You can imagine from my rating that I have no desire to revisit this text, but I appreciate the conversation my review has generated. I suppose, like a lot of things in literature and art, it's open for interpretation.

Jessica Wow, is it really so hard to admit you remembered incorrectly? Literature is only open to interpretation to an extent, like with everything else you still have to support your opinions.

Olivia I think it is bold and courageous for anyone to speak so openly about such a volatile, traumatic experience. It gives insight and hope and with such a way that it is dark yet, approachable. I felt empowered by her, for her, and for every woman who goes through something so terrible and survives. I think it is morally incorrect to accuse her of being self-righteous by being brutally honest about her recovery and experiences after the rape. As far as Lila goes, how would you have reacted? Theoretically, if you had been raped and chosen to see the process through i.e. going to the police, pressing charges, face your rapist, testify against them, and then see them pay the price for your actions, I believe you would want anybody who had been in your shoes to do the same. She did what she did for Lila because she knew what it was like to be victimized and fight. To be victimized and still do what she could to find some sort of justice. Most women don't even report rape. This leaves the assailant walking freely on the streets to do it again. I would absolutely and aggressively encourage a victim to go the distance it takes to bring her rapist to justice, especially if I had done it too. However, there is none of that from Alice to Lila. If anything, Sebold is guilty of being overly attentive and coddling too much. She is simply trying to help Lila by being what she is and was. A survivor of the same horrific experience. She knows what it feels like to see everything differently, almost in a foreign way. She describes feeling alienated from everyone and everything after her rape. Shrinking into herself because now she is just, "that girl who got raped." She was simply trying to save her friend from that in the only way she knew how.

message 19: by Sean (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sean Begley ouch!

message 20: by Lori (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Having just finished this book, I agree thoroughly with those who say it was Lila who cut off the friendship. What I got out of Alice's writing about Lila's rape, however, was not that she aggressively pressed Lila to report and prosecute, nor that Lila was utterly unwilling to do so in the early hours - but that the reaction of the police, family and friends was not centered on Lila, and that threw a huge monkey wrench into their relationship. Sebold writes of the police chatting HER up while Lila was being questioned and processed; of HER assailant's picture as well as one of his friends' being in the mug-shot book Lila had to look at; of people treating her like "the pro" on how to deal with the aftermath of a rape instead of focusing on Lila. They made Lila's rape "All about Alice," and I have to think that would have been extremely alienating to Lila - but Sebold herself seems to intuit that, and not want the attention. She writes of feeling that Lila's family judged her as contagious, as somehow bringing this on Lila. I get the impression she still feels that one of her own assailant's buddies may have committed the assault on Lila as payback for taking her assailant to trial and getting a conviction - if not, why would the police use the mug shot of a man in jail? And she portrays Lila as more dependent on her family, more willing to go along and do what she's told, so the family's hostility to Alice (particularly the father, who tells Alice "we take care of our own. We don't need you") could certainly have played a large factor in the friendship's demise - and in Lila's decision not to follow through on the legal process.

To me, all of this corroborates Alice's persistent feeling that the aftermath of her own rape will never end - it always will color people's perception of her, always will be a burden not just on her but on all those around her - and she DOESN'T want to pose that burden to others. So to Emily I would simply say that you don't have to like Sebold, or her family and the worldview under whose influence she grew up, in order to acknowledge that she survived it in the best way she knew how - and that as a non-counselor she perhaps did not possess the skill to help Lila, but she did have caring and helpful intentions that were thwarted by her own local notoriety. I can only hope that both Alice and Lila have found some peace in their lives and are truly survivors and not victims any longer - that they are not just going through the motions, saying the right things, "acting normal", or locking down their consciousness whenever anything ugly threatens to bubble to the surface. PTSD is a bitch, and just recognizing its existence, just seeing a therapist for it and learning how it works, doesn't mean it has been conquered.

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