Alice Sebold, Author, Book review, memoir, Non-fiction, Picador, Publisher, Setting, USA

‘Lucky’ by Alice Sebold


Non-Fiction – paperback; Picador; 272 pages; 2003.

Lucky is a searing and incredibly moving account of Alice Sebold’s rape as an 18-year-old college freshman in 1981.

Brutally honest from cover to cover, Sebold does not pull any punches, whether describing her emotionally cold upbringing, the rape itself or the friends won and lost during the psychological fallout following the tragedy.

I found this a gripping true-life story, so gripping that I read it in one sitting. Sebold’s bravery, not just in surviving the rape and helping to secure the conviction of her attacker, but in putting her experience down on paper to share with complete strangers, is incredibly inspiring. This is a heart-wrenching, disturbing and — surprisingly — witty book that will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

And for those who have read Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, it is an interesting insight into that novel’s exploration of how a brutal crime can impact on an entire family.

Alice Sebold, Author, Book review, Fiction, literary fiction, Picador, Publisher, Setting, USA

‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold


Fiction – paperback; Picador; 328 pages; 2003.

In The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold has created a wonderful set of characters, especially the narrator, Susie Salmon, who tells the story of her family’s life from beyond the grave.

Murdered when she was 14 by a neighbour, Susie watches as her parents and siblings try to cope with her terrible death, each one reacting and dealing with their loss in very different ways. From her vantage point in heaven, Susie sees everything but this never lessens her love for her family or her strong desire to return to Earth.

Sebold’s writing is so deft and confident it never resorts to cliché or fairytale extremes; it is totally believable from start to finish and you can’t help thinking that if there is life after death then this is exactly what it will be like.

In a nutshell, I liked The Lovely Bones very much. I was convinced that I’d find it cloying and sentimental but I was surprised to find that it was far from this.

There’s no doubt that it was sad but, like William Trevor’s excellent The Story of Lucy Gault, this sadness wasn’t soppy but made more real because it was tinged with regret, unfulfilled promise and heartbreak regarding what might have been.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire reading experience and found myself getting lost in the story, particularly the first few chapters which gripped me to the point that I completely lost track of time.

In much the same way that Anne Tyler takes the ordinary and makes it into something extraordinary, The Lovely Bones is about normal people finding themselves in an abnormal situation and coping with it the best way that they can. This is a mesmerizing book that resonates long after you read the final page. Read it if you can.