“The fact is: I’m a SURVIVOR. I’m the leftover. The lucky one. The only one in that room who lived.”
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Thank you Delacorte Press for a review copy in exchange for a honest review!
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.
This book is such a heart-wrenching, hard hitting, emotional journey that I devoured from start to finish. For a debut novel this is truly fantastic and unfortunately so relevant to the society we live in today, especially if you’re in America. The Lucky Ones is a story of tragedy, trauma, coping, and hope all wrapped into one story that, let’s face it, made my ugly cry pretty damn hard but it was asboutely worth it.
What I Liked
🙍🏻♀️ May. First and foremost, let’s start with our main character who I adored. May, is dealing with a lot following a school shooting that left her twin brother dead. PTSD, guilt on why she lived and he died, complex grief, and feeling failed by the people who should have protected her are all some of the things she’s grappling with. And she’s angry, REALLY angry. She’s mean to the people who care most about her, starts fights, isolates herself, and pushes people away almost to the point where it makes her unlikeable. But as someone like myself who is dealing with complex grief, it’s so easy to see that she’s just doing what she feels like she needs to do to survive in a world that she feels failed by. Her growth in this story is not monumental and it’s not supposed to be either which I appreciated so much.
🕐 The time it takes place in. While this book does have a few flashbacks to the shooting it doesn’t focus on that day particularly. The book picks up almost at the one year anniversary of the shooting, long after the media vans and reporters have packed up and moved on. It focuses more on the kids who are forced to pick up the pieces of their lives that were shattered and how they are doing dealing with the trauma of that day.
🔀 Plot twists. When May starts a new school after her old one closes down she never expects to find someone who she feels seen by for the first time since everything happened. And never in her wildest dreams did she expect to feel that from the boy whose mother is defending the school shooter’s upcoming trial. It makes for a very interesting two sided story. Not to mention the fact that there a few other twists in the book that make it even more compelling but I’ll refrain from mentioning them for the sake of spoilers.
💘 Friends to lovers…maybe. When May meets Zach their attraction is mutual but they’re both going through a lot. I really loved how the author didn’t throw them into a whirlwind of a romance but instead focused on them becoming friends and slowly maybe one day in the future that will develop into more.
🤓 Important themes. Obviously, with this book dealing with a heavy topic like a school shooting there are some important themes already built within that. But the author goes one step further and adds even more depth the story by talking about how May and Zach’s home lives have changed since the events as well. Their parents are around less, battling depression, and trying to pick up the pieces of their lives as well. It just goes to show how many people are impacted by these completely avoidable tragedies.
What I Would Have Liked to See More Of
📈 Just a teeny bit more growth/explanation. I know I said I appreciated the fact that May’s growth wasn’t monumental and I truly do, but at the same time I grew extremely invested in May. So, I would have loved to see an epilogue or maybe just something a little more about how she’s doing, if she went to college, what her relationship is like now with her parents, what happened at the trial, etc.
“Sometimes I think I was born again that day in the band room, that the old me was murdered along with everyone else, replaced with this new person who’s angry and scared and broken.”
“I hate having to have conversations with these people whose eyes are so full of pity, who don’t see me anymore.”
“Jordan wouldn’t have wanted you to come out of that closet; he wouldn’t have blamed you for staying in there. He would have wanted you to live. Fucking live, May.”
“We’re not the same people we used to be; no one here is. We’ll never be those people again, but I think maybe, there’s hope that some of us will become better people than we were before.”
All in all, if you’re looking for a contemporary that is sure to slam you with ALL the feelings but is also a very timely and relevant story then definitely don’t pass this one up. The Lucky Ones is a fantastic debut and I cannot wait to read more from this author in the future.
Until next time,