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ISBN: 9780330418362


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by Alice Sebold

Category: Biographies / General
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 1 December 2002
Number of pages: 272

In a memoir hailed for its searing candour and wit, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was utterly transformed when, as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus. What propels this chronicle of her recovery is Sebold's indomitable spirit -- as she struggles for understanding ('After telling the hard facts to anyone, from lover to friend, I have changed in their eyes'); as her dazed family and friends sometimes bungle their efforts to provide comfort and support; and as, ultimately, she triumphs, managing through grit and coincidence to help secure her attacker's arrest and conviction. In a narrative by turns disturbing, thrilling, and inspiring, Alice Sebold illuminates the experience of trauma victims even as she imparts wisdom profoundly hard-won: 'You save yourself or you remain unsaved.' 'A rueful, razor-sharp memoir ...Sebold tells what it's like to go through a particular kind of nightmare in order to tell what it's like -- slowly, bumpily, triumphantly -- to heal' Sarah Kerr, Vogue

Sebold is best known in this country for her bestselling novel, The Lovely Bones. Published in the UK for the first time, Lucky is an earlier work, the story of her own rape and its aftermath. The title derives from the comment of a police officer who told her that she was 'lucky' not to have been murdered. The memoir begins with an account of the rape itself. Sebold, an 18-year-old virgin, and a first-year student at Syracuse University, is walking back to campus one night when she is grabbed from behind by a man with a knife. The description of the brutal and vicious attack that follows is unsparing in its detail. Nonetheless, Sebold manages to persuade her attacker that she won't report him, and thus saves her own life. The story that follows is both harrowing and uplifting. Harrowing because Sebold finds that, as a rape victim, she doesn't receive the kindness and sympathy she might have expected - from the police, from her friends or even from her own family. Her father, on hearing that Sebold's attacker had dropped his knife in the struggle, asks: 'How could you have been raped if he didn't have the knife?' Uplifting because Sebold refuses to let the rape destroy her: 'You save yourself or you remain unsaved.' When the rapist is caught and tried, Sebold has to go through the trauma of cross-examination by a sneering defence barrister determined to undermine her evidence. Yet she triumphs; the court bailiff later tells her that she is the best rape witness he has ever seen. Sebold is unflinchingly honest about her feelings about what happened to her; this isn't an easy story of someone undergoing a trauma and overcoming it. On the contrary, Sebold's life goes to pieces - she starts drinking heavily and taking drugs - even as she convinces herself that she is unaffected by what has happened to her. Only years later does she realize that she is suffering from post-traumatic stress and that the experience has left deep psychological wounds. Yet even though she is unflinching in her account of the attack and its consequences, she is never self-pitying, never asks for sympathy. Don't be fooled into thinking, either, that this is just a memoir of a rape victim; Sebold is a fine writer and brings to her account a novelist's ability to tell a story. Horrifying though this book is, you'll find it hard to put down. And by the end, you'll find yourself feeling the deepest admiration for this exceptional woman. (Kirkus UK)

What the papers say:
""A rueful, razor-sharp memoir... funier that you'd think possible... Sebold tells what it's like to go t hrough a particular kind of nightmare in order to tell what it's like- slowly, bumpily, triumphantly- to heal."" Sarah Kerr, VOGUE

Author's Biography:
Alice Sebold lives in California with her husband, the writer Glen David Gold. She is the author of the critically acclaimed bestselling novel The Lovely Bones.

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