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How Lucky by Will Leitch
Contemporary fiction

How Lucky

by Will Leitch

Excellent choice

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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

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  • 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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How Lucky

My life is not a thriller. My life is the opposite of a thriller.

What a relief. Who wants their life to be thrilling? Don’t get me wrong. We want our lives to be exciting: we want them to inspire, to be surprising, to provide us a reason to get up and experience something new every day. But thrilling? No way, man. Everything that happens in a thriller would be completely fucking terrifying in real life. You’ve seen a million chase scenes in movies, so many that you barely even look up from folding laundry when one happens in whatever you are watching on Netflix at that particular moment. They are dull; they are rote and boring. But if you were in one of those chase scenes, it would be a nightmare. You’d be running . . . for your life! If you survived it, you would spend years trying to get over it. You’d shake and cower about it in therapy, you’d have nightmares reliving it from which you woke up screaming, you’d have trouble developing any sort of human connection with another person. It would be the worst thing that ever happened to you.

Real life, mercifully, isn’t a thriller. Those things don’t happen to you, and they don’t happen to me. My life is nothing but small moments, and so is yours. We don’t live in a series of plot points. We should be thankful for that. We should realize how lucky we are.

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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 (18,403)

  • Laura M.

    Burleson, TX

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Great read. Extremely insightful regarding those with disabilities and what it takes to get through daily life. The mystery element was perfectly woven throughout and I couldn’t put it down

  • 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.

  • Penny B.

    Terre Haute, IN

    I absolutely loved HOW LUCKY by Will Leitch. It really surprised me for I don’t believe I’ve ever read a more down-to-earth written book and believe me, I read a lot of books. Read it, you’ll love it!

  • Ellen D.

    East Lyme , CT

    What an extraordinary book! I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I started reading but I soon realized this was something special. “Letting someone help you is the nicest thing you can do for anyone”

  • Taylor C.

    Brandenburg, KY

    I loved this book. I wasn’t expecting Daniel to be in a wheelchair. I thought he could walk. I didn’t even realize he couldn’t talk either. The ending made me teary eyed. I 10/10 recommend this book.

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