Alice Sebold,
Lucky: A Memoir
(Scribner, 1999;
Back Bay, 2002)

When I was a student at Syracuse University, I had never heard of Alice Sebold, but every girl (and boy, for that matter) knew never to walk through Thornden Park at night. Twenty years after Alice's rape in this dark park, students may not all know her by name, but they know the park is a dangerous and scary place. Alice was supremely innocent and naive when she was raped (it was her first sexual experience), a fact that the judge in her case could never grasp.

Is this a recovery memoir? Throughout the book, Alice convinces herself and the reader that she is recovering. She goes through phases of anger, reckless behavior, being withdrawn and the gradual acceptance of new friends. At the end of the book, Alice reveals that as well as she thought she was doing, she had a lot more recovery to do for the rest of her life. The reader is forced to reconcile the fact that as painful as everything Alice went through was, she wasn't done dealing with the trauma.

The investigation and trial of Alice's rapist is both shocking and gut-wrenching. I started reading that part of the book pretty much assuming Alice would win. She was wronged, he's bad, end of story, right? There was so much more to it, and my eyes were opened wide. Alice reprints her testimony verbatim, interspersed with descriptions and explanations, and the reader can feel the tension in the courtroom as they go through the trial. I was on pins and needles during the trial chapters, and I can only imagine what it was like for those present.

Alice has done the world a service by telling this story, by offering the inside look from a victim's point of view. This is an important read for all mature teenagers and all college-age girls.

by Jessica Lux-Baumann
10 June 2006

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