I picked up this book from the publisher’s booth while attending the North Texas Teen Book Festival in March 2020. (I also had a chance to meet the author and get the ARC signed! How fun!)
Anyway, I figured that I would post some more informal reviews. If you’ve seen my reviews from the past (outside of the mini-reviews), you’ve seen they follow a pretty strict format. While I initially started doing that to help put my thoughts together, I sometimes found it constricting. Since I haven’t been posting a lot of reviews on my blog in general, I find that I’m posting short, concise reviews on Goodreads as soon as I finish the book. For the time being, I’m going to post them on my blog too. You may find more formal reviews mixed in but for right now, this is helping me keep the blog going and feeling like I’m actually contributing.
Sorry for that long disclaimer!
Content warnings: Depression, PTSD, panic/anxiety attack, school shooting scenario
Title: The Lucky Ones
Author: Liz Lawson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Expected release date: April 7, 2020
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Length: 352 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “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.”
I find books dealing with this subject content so hard to rate. It’s not that I dislike the book or the book isn’t for me, it’s just that the subject matter is so <b>heavy</b> that I don’t want to dismiss how people genuinely feel regarding this delicate matter. Not to say that the book wasn’t good or doesn’t deserve to be read either.
The aftermath of the school shooting affected May and Zach in similar yet different ways. Their lives changed forever, and they both deal with it in different ways. May feels completely lost without her twin brother, Jordan. We see her wrestle with issues and dealing with things in her own way but the author never fully reveals the depths of May’s anger and sadness until later in the book. I’ve never had to deal with the loss of a family member in this way, but May is hurting and I don’t quite think she knows how to accept help from people. That and being a teenager is hard work! may and Zach connect and it’s a bit back-and-forth of “I know something you don’t know” sort of thing.
I really do love how May and Zach both have strong friends to rely on. Despite losing their old friends due to the aftermath of the school shooting, they each have that one reliable friend until each other comes along. This book also reveals a bit how parents struggle with what happens in the outside world, too. May’s parents are trying to grieve the loss of their son while Zach’s parents also deal with in their own way. It isn’t until way later that we see kids and parents working <i>together</i> to heal, which is nice to see.
This book isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but I’m sure you know that after reading the synopsis. I wouldn’t necessarily call the ending a “happy” one either, but it’s progressing toward that. We just don’t to see it.