Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lucky, by Alice Sebold

Lucky, by Alice Sebold. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 1999. ISBN-10: 0316096199; ISBN-13: 978-0316096195. 246 p.

Plot Summary
In this memoir, the acclaimed author of The Lovely Bones reveals how her life was transformed when she was brutally raped and assaulted as an 18-year-old college freshman. A policeman, attempting to be kind, told her she was lucky--at least she hadn't been raped and them dismembered, as had happened to another girl in the same place.  Sebold details the aftermath, from the reactions of her friends and family to the trial the subsequent verdict of her rapist, her post traumatic stress and heroin addiction to a final sense of understanding.

Critical Evaluation
Sebold speaks with an openness that is sometimes unbearable as she describes her rape and assault in searing detail. This candid memoir illuminates the experiences trauma victims face with wit and black humor. Though the book was intended for an adult audience, it is relevant to teens who may be facing the effects of sexual assault in their own lives or the lives of those they love. This is an essential read for anyone looking for a firsthand account of the real effects of sexual assault.

Reader’s Annotation
When she was an 18-year-old college freshman, author Alice Sebold was raped and beaten in a park outside her college campus. Sebold details her recovery from a traumatic event in this gripping memoir.

Author Information
Alice Sebold was born in 1963 in Wisconsin and grew up in Pennsylvania. She attended Syracuse University and studied writing. She later went to Texas and the UC-Irvine for graduate school (source). Lucky was her first published book, followed by The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon. She lives in Irvine, CA.

On the last day of her freshman year of college, Sebold was attacked and raped in a park near her dorm. After months at home, where she returned at the urging of her parents, she returned to Syracuse and finished her degree. Months after her rape, she recognized her rapist on a street near campus and secured his arrest and subsequent conviction with a maximum sentence. Lucky details this ordeal.


Curriculum Ties
Sociology: rape, women's studies

Booktalking Ideas
-Do you know anyone who has been raped? Do you want to understand what they're going through?
-read description of the fear Sebold feels as she realizes she's alone in the park and there is a huge man there.

Reading Level/Interest Age
Grades 11-12. Some younger students may also be interested, dependent on emotional maturity, but it is probably too explicit in its detailed description of Sebold's rape for many.

Challenge Issues
Detailed description of a rape and assault and the subsequent medical exam at the police station.

Challenge Defense
Be very familiar with the book before recommending it to a teen. Remind concerned parents that it is a real memoir and may help some teens.

I included this book because I loved it when I first read it and felt it could be relevant to the experiences many teens may face.


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