Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lucky Alice Sebold, Author, Victim, Survivor

I'd read the book, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, told in first person about the little girl who was kidnapped, held in an underground room by a neighbor, raped and murdered. I'd seen the movie. The point of view was unique - that of the murdered girl. Riveting book, good movie. It's scary knowing how much evil may lurk in otherwise ordinary appearing people.

The other night I picked up a book from a box full of books my sister in law had shared with me and noticed it was by the same author. I settled in for what I thought would be another good read. I wasn't prepared for this heart-wrenching story which pretty much defined the author's own life.

Alice Sebold is author, victim and survivor. She tells her story in her memoir, Lucky, a seemingly contradictory name for such a sad tale. It begins with the attack as she crossed a park on her way to her dorm one night during her first year of college, and quickly begins to illustrate the attitudes of the people surrounding her, and her own redefined image of herself. The police told her she was 'lucky' because another girl had been killed in the same tunnel. It tells of the attack and her innate survival skills coming into play, the perpetrator's remorse and his sick delusion that she had enjoyed it and him.

Her attention to the details of what she thought would be her last hour on earth ultimately led to the criminal conviction of this young man, but that didn't end the pain. Her story chronicles the aftermath of that night, the effects of which marked her and those around her forever. The life-changing event and her struggles through a new version of her life obviously contribute to her skills as an author. I understand now how she was able to so accurately tell the story of young Susie Salmon of The Lovely Bones from the victim's point of view.

There is hope in the story too. Despite years of following wrong paths in her efforts to evade the pain, Sebold eventually put her life back together. I'm glad she's told both stories.

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