The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson
Publication Date : April 7th 2020
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Genre : YA / Contemporary
Pages : 352
Stars : ★★★★★
How do you put yourself back together when it seems like you’ve lost it all?
May is a survivor. But she doesn’t feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through–no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her.
Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister…and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won’t let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night. The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band.
Which is how May meets Zach. And how Zach meets May. And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all.
*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***
The Lucky Ones was poignant YA contemporary that revolved around May who lost her twin brother in school shooting and Zach whose life turns upside down when his mother took shooter’s case as defense lawyer. It was about grief, loss, guilt, depression, trauma, hope, friendship, family, and love.
Writing was great, easy to follow, and so gripping that I finished it in one sitting (of course, it took me more hours than fast readers but I didn’t sleep until I finished the book). Author put me in the middle of May and Zach’s life and made me to observe their emotions and what was going on in their mind without letting me hug them and talk to them or provide a hope and motivations they needed so much. Alternative first person narrative from May and Zach give this story personal and more emotional touch.
As synopsis said, both characters were struggling with how shooting changed their life. It had been almost a year, most difficult year for May and Zach. May was still not ready to start a school but she had to, she didn’t believe her parents and therapist that socializing, talking to someone, or by going to school will help her. She was walking panic bomb that might blast and break her down anytime. Only person who was helping her cope with school and life was her best friend Lucy. She wouldn’t talk anyone else until she met Zach at Lucy’s audition for band.
Zach was son of shooter ‘s defense lawyer. It caused him lose everything. His girlfriend left him, his best friend wouldn’t miss a chance to taunt and belittle him and started dating his girlfriend. Nobody at school would look at him or talk to him except Conor. Conor helped him to cope with school and hate he was getting from the world, encouraged him to live little until he met Lucy at Conor’s band audition.
Problem was Lucy was vandalizing his house. She hated his mother for taking shooter’s case. It was difficult for Zach to protect his little sister from it. He didn’t like his mother for taking case and he blamed her for what happened to him and his sister at house and at school but at the same time he didn’t like the person who terrorized their life, for giving his sister nightmare.
I was curious to see when they will learn about each other’s last name, how Lucy will react when she learns he is son of the person she hates most at the moment, how Zach will find out the person behind vandalism was Lucy, can they forgive each other, not blame themselves and other for what happened, if there is hope for them to find peace and solace with each other, and mostly what was in letters May kept receiving ever since the tragedy.
“As you get older, I hope you can remember that people aren’t the sum of their mistakes. The world isn’t black- and- white – the best thing you can do for yourself is to look at the spaces between those poles, to see that extremes aren’t useful to anyone.”
May was going through hell. It’s not easy to get over twin sibling’s death with whom you have shared everything since you were a tiny embryo and it gets even more difficult when you don’t get a chance to say goodbye, last few weeks or months before loss one spend fighting with twin, drunk in parties. The guilt of it, anger and regret don’t let anyone live and May was no exception. She didn’t feel she was ‘The Lucky One’ who survived. She felt she was coward and should have died with her sibling. The anger of it was thrown on whoever tried to come near her, get back the memory of her brother. My heart went out to her. I was shocked seeing her parents were never there and on reading what put distance between the twins. Her development was great and I loved the way she came out of her grief.
Zach was great throughout the book. He was sweet, cute, and caring guy. I didn’t like how everybody taunted him, intimidated him and hated him for something he wasn’t responsible for. I loved him the way he cared for his sister and took responsibilities when his parents failed to fulfill. Though it was sad what happened in climax, I feel he should have understood. But I still like him. I liked how he changed his mind.
I liked all characters in this book. Most of all Lucy and Conor, especially Lucy. They were the symbol of friendship. Nobody would stays in time like this, with the way May and Zach behaved and reacted throughout the book, especially May. If it was someone else they would have walked away from them within few weeks but not Lucy. It was Lucy and her words at the end that pierced through me, made me cry and everything that happened from climax to end.
Parents were not exactly likable but we were seeing them through grief ridden lenses of May and Zach. I agree with them and at some point I do blame them for everything but as parent I could feel their pain (not May’s dad). I could see how it might have been for both May and Zach’s moms and for Zach dad. It surprised me along with him when I read perspective of Zach’s mother. I wish she had said all those things earlier. It showed mistakes of parents and how they could have made things better by not pushing their kids, sharing equal love and more time and by just talking.
Relationship, which was more like friendship, was great. I’m glad author didn’t label it. Both were tentative with this new feeling and change, still spiraling in the tornado of grief and loss and yet holding onto each other that helped them to fight it, make it bearable and slowly coming out of it. They found solace with each other, brought smile and happiness back that they lost in that tornado. I was sad to see them drifting apart back to their grief and loss, especially Lucy, when she finally opened those letters, how it made her guilt and pain stronger than it ever was and what it caused between her and Zach.
Climax was heartbreaking and poignant. It scared the shit out of me. I was worried and thought worst might happen. But I was glad it didn’t go in the direction of my thoughts. I cried and smiled and felt hope along with characters. I loved how climax changed everything both in Zach and May’s life and how they found each other back at the end.
Overall, it was powerful, emotional and poignant YA contemporary with heavy topic that recommend to all.
What do you think about the book and my review? Have you read this book already? Are you going to add it to TBR? Which book you read was about grief and loss and finding hope again through love.
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