Book Reviews

Only If You’re Lucky by Stacy Willingham

Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for my advanced reader copy of Only If You’re Lucky by Stacy Willingham! This book publishes (in the US) on January 16, 2024. After reading A Flicker in the Dark, I just knew I had to get my hands on this one too.

The Story

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.

My Thoughts

Is it weird to say that it was a little bit fun to read Only If You’re Lucky? It makes me feel old, but it brought me back to my college days (though I wasn’t as extreme as these ladies were). I think I was imagining some of my friends from my freshman/sophomore years as the characters in the book, and it just brought a whole different element to reading the story.

As for the story, I felt like it wandered a bit. Keeping up with the timeline was also a bit confusing at times. Some chapters were titled with “Before” or “After” (no spoilers here), but not all of them. So, if you put the book down at the end of a chapter that was in the middle of a “Before” or “After” sequence, I found that it took me a bit longer to figure out where I was. (By “a bit longer,” I only mean a few seconds. It’s not like I was lost for pages and pages.)

However, for all of the wandering and extraneous details that I felt were being written, they all came together in the end! I honestly feel like there wasn’t a simple random detail or story that was shared that didn’t ultimately matter. THAT IS HOW YOU WRITE A STORY WITH MULTIPLE TIMELINES AND STORYLINES. Don’t give me some diatribe about a neighbor who had health concerns if those health concerns weren’t indicative that her husband was slowly poisoning the neighborhood.

I gave Only If You’re Lucky three stars on Goodreads. If there were half stars, I probably would have done 3.5. The pacing of the novel felt a bit slow and I wasn’t necessarily gripped in the beginning, but I really appreciated how everything wrapped up.

@downthebookjar #bookreview Only If You’re Lucky by Stacy Willingham 📚 Solid three star read, comes out next year! #booktok #booktalk #readmorebooks #arcreader #onlyifyourelucky #stacywillingham #netgalley #netgalleyarc #books #booksof2023 ♬ original sound – Caroline | Down the Book Jar

One super cool thing I learned from the Acknowledgements? Stacy is a UGA alumni! This is the second book of hers that I’ve read, and I had no idea. Go Dawgs!!

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