You’ve probably heard the name Alice Sebold or maybe you’ve read her well-known novel, The Lovely Bones. Whether you’ve read Sebold’s most famous book or not, you should read Lucky.
Lucky is Sebold’s memoir of her rape and her survival. I’ll admit that I’ve picked this book up a while back and tried to read it, but found it extremely difficult to get through the first chapter. The book starts with Sebold’s rape. She was an 18-year-old virgin, walking back to her dorm room on the last night of school when she was grabbed, threatened, and brutally raped by a man she describes as short, muscular, black, and between the ages of 16 and 18. Sebold doesn’t hold back when describing her attack and rape. It was incredibly hard to read and even harder to imagine that someone could have attacked another person so brutally.
I decided this year that I would read all the unread books I have sitting on my book shelf so I picked up Sebold’s memoir to give it another try. This time, I forced myself to continue past the first chapter and read the entire memoir within three days. Though the rape was brutal and imagining the terror Sebold must have felt during and in the moments, days, weeks, and years after her rape was scary for me to read, I never felt any pity for her. I never stopped to think that I felt sorry for her and I’m not saying this because I think I should have felt sorry for her. On the contrary, I think feeling sorry for a victim of any kind of violence is not fair to the victim. Yes, a terrible thing happened to her, but feeling sorry for her, won’t help her move on. Listening helps. I think this is part of the reason Sebold decided to write this memoir; she wanted people to listen, not only to help herself, but to give a name and a face and a story to a victim of rape.
Another reason I never felt pity for Sebold was because of her incredible strength. She walked away from her attack not as a victim, but as a strong individual. She never gave up on finding and putting her rapist behind bars. She wrote this memoir and told her story. She moved past her rape and continued living a full and successful like as an amazing author.
I always wondered why Sebold chose to write the novel, The Lovely Bones. After reading her memoir, I think I finally understand her choice in deciding to write a novel about a young girl who is murdered and the difficulty her family has to go through in order to deal with losing their child. In her memoir, Sebold mentions that she was murdered by her rapist and a new version of herself was born after her rape. Her family and friends had a hard time dealing with her rape; they didn’t know what to do or say. The Lovely Bones now seems to me like another story about Sebold’s rape, focused on the hardship family and friends have with dealing with the destruction of a person they love.
In her memoir, Sebold writes, “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.” Lucky is the story of how Alice Sebold saved herself. Grab a copy and listen to her story.