This reading group guide for Lucky includes an introduction and discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.Introduction
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In a memoir hailed for its searing candor as well as its wit, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was transformed when, as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus. What propels this chronicle is Sebold’s indomitable spirit—as she struggles for understanding; as her family and friends sometimes bungle their efforts to provide comfort and support; and as she ultimately triumphs, managing through grit and coincidence to help secure her attacker’s arrest and conviction. In a narrative by turns thrilling and inspiring, Sebold illuminates the experience of trauma victims and imparts a wisdom profoundly hard-won: “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.”Topics & Questions for Discussion
opens with an incredibly brutal scene. Immediately after the rape, Alice tells her attacker she forgives him. Why?
2. “I was learning that no one—females included—knew what to do with a rape victim” (page 78). How did Alice’s friends and classmates react to her story?
3. Alice writes that she was “raised in a house where my mother’s problems provided the glue of family” (page 167). Discuss the Sebold family dynamic. In what ways did Alice’s family provide the support she needed in the aftermath of the rape? In what ways did they fail? How did her role in the family evolve?
4. What effect did Alice’s rape have on her relationship with her sister? Do you think Alice and Mary were closer before the rape or after? Why?
5. Discuss the role of race in this story. Sebold mentions what she calls “the cosmetics of any rape case.” What does she mean by this?
6. Picture that October afternoon when Alice found herself face-to-face with her attacker. Would your reaction have been different from Alice’s?
7. “Remember everything,” Alice’s professor and notable memoirist Tobias Wolff tells her as she heads to the police station. How was this advice helpful to her?
8. Reflecting on a poem for her workshop with Tess Gallagher, Alice wrote, “You could not be filled with hate and be beautiful” (page 103). Discuss her poem Conviction” and the reactions it elicited.
9. Alice fails to identify Gregory Madison in the police lineup. In what ways does Alice’s lawyer’s comment that “rights are weighted on the side of the defendant” (page 145) ring true?
10. What seems to drive Alice forward as the prosecution of Gregory Madison continues? What did you learn about a rape trial by reading Lucky
11. If Alice had been sexually active before the rape, how might her recovery have been different? At the trial, was Alice’s virginity a factor in securing Gregory Madison’s conviction?
12. Discuss Alice’s response to Lila’s rape. How does that impact the relationship between the friends?
13. “It is not just forcible intercourse; rape means to inhabit and destroy everything” (page 127). Discuss how this applies to Alice’s experience.