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July 14, 2024

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Book Reviews, And Author Interviews

Only If You’re Lucky By Stacy Willingham Isn’t Something I Thought An Author Could Do

Only If You’re Lucky By Stacy Willingham-Summary

Goodreads summary of Only If You’re Lucky By Stacy Willingham (review below):

Lucy Sharpe is larger than life. Magnetic, addictive. Bold and dangerous. Especially for Margot, who meets Lucy at the end of their freshman year at a liberal arts college in South Carolina. Margot is the shy one, the careful one, always the sidekick, and never the center of attention. But when Lucy singles her out at the end of the year, a year Margot spent studying and playing it safe and asks her to room together, something in Margot can’t say no—something daring, or starved, or maybe even envious.

And so Margot finds herself living in an off-campus house with three other girls, Lucy, the ringleader; Sloane, the sarcastic one; and Nicole, the nice one, the three of them opposites but also deeply intertwined. It’s a year that finds Margot finally coming out of the shell she’s been in since the end of high school when her best friend Eliza died three weeks after graduation. Margot and Lucy have become the closest of friends, but by the middle of their sophomore year, one of the fraternity boys from the house next door has been brutally murdered… and Lucy Sharpe is missing without a trace.

A tantalizing thriller about the nature of friendship and belonging, about loyalty, envy, and betrayal—another gripping novel from an author quickly becoming the gold standard in psychological suspense.

Only If You’re Lucky By Stacy Willingham- Review

Yeah, no five reasons why because everything is too intermingled. But oh my, let me start with this… WHAT A BOOK. It isn’t even 2024, and I’m calling it. Only If You’re Lucky will be one of my favorite psychological thrillers of the year. Yep. You heard me. I’m not kidding.

First of all, I will start at the end without spoilers because, holy whiplash, Batman.

Only If You're Lucky By Stacy Willingham Review Summary

Please also see my Teaser Tuesday for Only If You’re Lucky- linked

I didn’t see the last 25% of Only If You’re Lucky coming, and NEITHER WILL YOU. It isn’t just that it is a thriller, personified. It is unique in how things are solved and wrapped up. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve read 175 books this year. Just under that last year, and I don’t remember the year before, but my point is that I didn’t know this was something an author could do. I’ve never read it done before. It blew my mind, from the main characters to the side characters. I can’t say more than that because of spoilers. But trust me on this.

Only If You're Lucky By Stacy Willingham Review Summary

Ok. That wasn’t something I was aware an author could do…

Second, Stacy Willingham does that thing I’m a sucker for with psychological thrillers. She weaves in women’s topics without losing the book’s thriller part. In Only If You’re Lucky, she explores what it means to be a girl in a society where they are often dismissed. The intimacy and depths of want found in female friendships are also analyzed. Her writing is delicate and yet taught. She writes all parts of this story: the drama, the suspense, and the themes with precision.

… and it was easy, really, because that’s all we are to him: underestimated always. Just children, just girls.

I find myself wanting to somehow still make this work, wanting to simply give in to her web of secrets, so sticky and strong, because it’s easier that way. It’s easier not to fight them but to wrap myself up in them like a blanket, all silky and smooth as she crawls even closer, whispering her little lies in my ear.’

You will devour the main characters that make up this friendship. Lucy, Margot, Sloane, and Nicole’s personalities are developed independently, alongside their dynamics within the group. Lucy is the magnet; Margot is the new girl who craves belonging; Sloane is the protector, and Nicole is the authentic giver, the sweetest of the group. But then again, is everything what it seems about these girls and their friendships? You never do know.

There is the necessary time taken to accomplish the development of each character. Some might scoff at the drama aspect of this book, the parts that seem benign and not fitting. I call bullshit (without judgment, we all like what we like). Those scenes (both in the before and in the after timelines) serve to construct each character. Without that time, you wouldn’t connect to them or the plot.

How interesting; that female instinct to duck, to hide, like prey… Something inherent in our very genes, our very DNA.

Only If You're Lucky By Stacy Willingham Review Summary

Thank you to Minotaur Books and Macmillan Audio for an advance copy of Only If You’re Lucky by Stacy Willingham, which releases on January 16

Speaking of the plot, there is more than the mystery that first meets the eye. Multiple mysteries develop in the two different timelines (before the fraternity boy’s murder and Lucy’s disappearance). And it keeps the suspense tight. Even through the drama, the thrills don’t stop. While you are trying to piece together one mystery, another emerges. And while you try to figure out how they connect, another pops up to bend an already winding road further.

Let me be clear. There isn’t one piece of Only If You’re Lucky that doesn’t fit or is so jaw-dropping that it doesn’t make sense. Somehow, Stacy Willingham pulls it together and throws it at you with veracity and force.

There aren’t enough words for me to string together to do Stacy Willingham’s Only If You’re Lucky justice. So I will end with this.

Stacy Willingham

 

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