A novel for anyone who has dreamed about leaving their life behind to live in an Eden '“ but who also knows that real change comes from within.
Why I love it
Three waitresses at the same dead-end bar in an Arkansas college town try to navigate their fuzzed-out early twenties. Ellie, Rachel, and Chloe all yearn for meaning in different ways, and yet they all converge on a very relatable '“ and very modern '“ sense that, even though we’re supposed to feel more connected than ever, young people can still feel adrift in today’s world.
At the beginning of Lucky You, we see our heroines trying to numb themselves with late nights of boozing, sex with strangers, and bad reality television. They seek out meaningful connection but often end up in dysfunctional relationships, and so they feel lost '“ unsure about what to believe in or where to focus their energies.
And so, they go off the grid. Rachel moves into a rural cabin in the Ozark Mountains with her naively earnest boyfriend after reading a book called Toward Sustainability and flippantly declaring, 'œWe are in the midst of a large scale ecological crisis.' When Rachel invites Chloe and Ellie to move into the cabin, they all believe that through communing with nature and disconnecting from the outside world, they will find themselves anew.
Of course, as the women learn during the course of the novel, when you run away from your troubles they always follow. While living together as part of 'œThe Project,' the three women start to clash, their dreams fizzle, and they realize that no amount of pastoral escape or isolation will lead them to answers for the very real questions that eat away at young people who are oversaturated by staring into pixelated screens looking for truth. And yet there’s hope: one of the joys of the book is watching as each heroine figures out how to make her own way in the world on her own terms.
Erika Carter’s debut novel is sparse, beautiful, and often very funny. Her darkness and concision bring to mind the kind of writers who excel at making the tragic just comic enough that you forget to cry. This is a novel for anyone who has dreamed about leaving her life behind to live in an Eden '“ but who also knows that real change comes from looking within. No cabin in the woods is a magic bullet. Lucky You reminds us that the only way out is through.