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How Lucky by Will Leitch
Contemporary fiction

How Lucky

by Will Leitch

Quick take

Being the sole witness to a crime proves complicated in this funny, heartwarming story of a hero hiding in plain sight.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LOL


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Underdog



Daniel leads a rich life in the university town of Athens, Georgia. He’s got a couple close friends, a steady paycheck working for a regional airline, and of course, for a few glorious days each Fall, college football tailgates. He considers himself to be a mostly lucky guy—despite the fact that he’s suffered from a debilitating disease since he was a small child, one that has left him unable to speak or to move without a wheelchair.

Largely confined to his home, Daniel spends the hours he’s not online communicating with irate air travelers observing his neighborhood from his front porch. One young woman passes by so frequently that spotting her out the window has almost become part of his daily routine. Until the day he’s almost sure he sees her being kidnapped.

How Lucky is the unforgettable story of a fiercely resilient young man grappling with a physical disability, and his efforts to solve a mystery unfolding right outside his door.

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Why I love it

I love novels where the voice immediately disarms me, as if we already know each other—characters who at first aren’t even sure what’s so special about their story, but from those first lines, you know that you need to hear it. In How Lucky, Daniel has that same magic. It’s in the way he tells you, “My life is not a thriller,” and then, in a voice tinged with both pain and hopefulness, he lays out something that sure sounds like a thriller, but maybe not in the way we’ve heard it before.

Daniel considers himself to have a pretty great life: good friends, a steady job, a love of college football. He also has spinal muscular atrophy, which means he must use a wheelchair, cannot move his extremities, and speaks mostly through a voice generator box. He’s incredibly observant of the world around him, and this crystallizes in the moment he sees a young woman get into a car and disappear—making him the sole eye-witness to a potential crime he might just be the only person who can solve.

To echo Daniel, this book is not a thriller. But it is a propulsive story about one unforgettable protagonist I would have followed through any plot line. In a story that knows how bad this world can be, How Lucky offers a hard-earned hopefulness. It refuses to be easy, to give in, as if Leitch and his narrator are doing all that they can to tell us that there are reasons to live in this world, to hold on, to search for something meaningful.

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Member ratings (18,057)

  • Amy C.

    Somerville, MA

    I don’t often read book by men (they have enough readers ????) but I’m glad I gave this a shot. You could tell the author cared deeply about this character’s humanity while telling a fun/thrilling tale.

  • Christi M.

    Gray, GA

    Daniel is everything you want to read in a character. This book had me chuckling while on the edge of my seat the entire ride. Being a Georgia girl, the Athens setting has my heart. ❤️ LOVED this!!!!!

  • Julie W.

    Barre, VT

    I got How Lucky from BOTM on a whim, and I’m so happy with the choice!This book was unlike any other book I’ve read...possibly ever!I loved the light-hearted humor, genuine depiction of life with SMA.

  • Jennifer C.

    Manistee, MI

    Wow! When starting the book, I didn’t think it was one I was going to enjoy it. I had a difficult time reading the last few chapters, I felt so connected to Daniel, I couldn’t stand him getting hurt!


    Leaburg, OR

    I instantly loved this book! I enjoyed how the author wrote as if he was speaking directly to me - it grabbed my attention and I didn’t want to put it down. I learned a lot, too!! Excellent read! ❤️