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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Only If You're Lucky by Stacy Willingham

Only If You're Lucky centers around a group of South Carolina college students who don't truly know each other--and the unpleasant surprise of discovering the dark things they're each capable of.

Margot is from "the Outer Banks" of North Carolina and is finishing her freshman year in college at a small liberal arts school in South Carolina. She's still reeling from the loss of her best friend Eliza, who died a year earlier. She's spent her first year at school holing up and studying, maintaining a quiet life.

Then she's singled out by a vivacious girl on her hall, Lucy. Lucy is wild, mischievous, mysterious--and she has an extra room in her rambunctious house next to a fraternity house for the summer.

Margot is ready to cut loose and live a little, so she ditches her steady, predictable roommate and dives into living with Margot and her friends Sloane and Nicole, who are virtual strangers. (Together, they make up a group consisting of the wild one, the studious one, the mild-mannered one, and the one who is desperate to belong. Their character development didn't feel much deeper than that for me.)

By the time their sophomore year is half over, one of the fraternity boys from next door is dead, Lucy is missing, and Margot is keeping secrets that could change everything.

I found the characters here largely unlikable. The fraternity boys are presented as insufferable and ignorant dudes; the girls seem silly and flighty much of the time; and no one seems to really know each other. (These disconnected relationships are essential to the story, but they certainly didn't make me feel invested.) I was initially intrigued by the character of Levi, but he didn't feel fully developed, and later reflections on him made him seem shallow and selfish.

The twists didn't lead the story exactly where I thought they would, and I was surprised by several turns and revelations. All of this felt like the strongest aspect of Only If You're Lucky for me.

Yet I found myself not believing in the details and small moments that felt necessary to build the story (the characters' exchanges with each other, plus the odd shed access, the creepy hidey hole, the hunting and game and jerky element, and the staying at school for Thanksgiving?), and unfortunately, not caring much about the characters or what might happen to them.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

I listened to Only If You're Lucky as an audiobook.

Willingham is also the author of All the Dangerous Things and A Flicker in the Dark.

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