Lucky (memoir)

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2002 paperback cover of Lucky
Author Alice Sebold
Country United States
Language English
Genre Memoir
Publisher Scribner
Publication date
August 4, 1999
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 272 pp
ISBN 0-684-85782-0
OCLC 40777019
364.15/32/092 B 22
LC Class HV6561 .S44 1999

Lucky is a 1999 memoir by American novelist Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones. The memoir describes her experiences of being raped and how the experience shaped the rest of her life.[1]


In 1981, 18-year-old Alice Sebold was living in Syracuse, New York. Sebold was finishing her freshman year at Syracuse University when she was attacked, beaten, and raped while walking home through a park off campus in the early morning hours of May 8. She reported the crime to the police, who remarked that a young woman had once been murdered in the same location. Thus, they told her, she was "lucky."

Sebold returned home to Pennsylvania to live with her family for the summer before beginning her sophomore year at Syracuse. After months of no leads by the police, Sebold spotted her rapist while walking down the sidewalk. He smirked at her and remarked that he knew her "from somewhere" before continuing on. She called the police, who apprehended him.

Among her professors at the time was Tess Gallagher, who became one of Sebold's confidantes.[2] Gallagher accompanied Sebold to several legal proceedings. Also among her professors were Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff and Hayden Carruth.

During a lineup, Sebold failed to correctly identify her assailant, as he had brought a friend with him who looked very similar in order to confuse and presumably intimidate Sebold. Finally, he was arrested again and tried for her rape. After he was convicted, Sebold's off-campus apartment was broken into and her roommate was raped and Sebold was forced to relive her own trauma. Though no connection to Sebold's rape case was ever proven, she felt that it was retaliation for her rapist being locked up. Her roommate looked at a photo lineup but ultimately decided not to pursue any further legal action.[3]


Sebold has stated that her reason for writing the book was to bring more awareness to rape. "One of the reasons why I wrote it is because tons of people have had similar stories, not exactly the same but similar, and I want the word 'rape' to be used easily in conversation. My desire would be that somehow my writing would take a little bit of the taboo or the weirdness of using that word away. No one work is going to accomplish the years of work that need to be done, but it can help." [2]


  1. ^ "Lucky" (Publishers Weekly, August 1999) Archived October 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-02-12. Retrieved 2006-02-23. 
  3. ^ "Excerpt from 'Lucky'" (USA Today, October 29, 2002) Archived April 15, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.