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Only if You’re Lucky by Stacy Willingham

Only if You’re Lucky

by Stacy Willingham

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Quick take

Crackling with tension, this campus mystery follows the fracturing of four college friends after a murder.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SlowRead

    Slow build

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FemaleFriendship

    Female friendships


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.

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of sexual assault.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Only If You’re Lucky.
Only if You’re Lucky


One day we were strangers and the next we were friends. That’s usually how it works with girls.

How effortlessly we glide from cold shoulders in public to applying each other’s lipstick in sweaty bar bathrooms, fingertips touching in a swarm of warm bodies. From spreading hot-breathed rumors behind cupped hands to tossing compliments across the room like darts, aiming for a bull’s-eye, but really just hoping for something to stick. I remember thinking she chose me, specifically, for some reason I’d never understand. Like she spotted me from across the hall, eyes on the carpet and shoulders hunched high as I tried to hide my underwear at the bottom of the laundry basket—flowers and stars and little pink pinstripes, embarrassingly high school—and decided: I was it, it was me. Her best friend.

And from that moment on, I was.

“Spin it,” Lucy says, and I feel myself blink. My eyelids are heavy, the room twirling gently like our old dorm washing machines, slow and clunky and always broken. There’s a permanent cloud of smoke in the house—cigarette, candle, incense, weed—caked into the blankets, the couch cushions. Like if you slapped them, they’d cough.

I can still picture all my mom’s country clubbers tucking my hair behind my ear, fingers lingering against my cheek like I was their own personal porcelain doll. Thinking me delicate, breakable, as I loaded boxes into the trunk while they gushed about their own time at school with distant smiles and tears in their eyes.

How sure they were that I would finally find my people, my girls.

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Why I love it

I admit that in some ways I feel about Stacy Willingham the way fans of a once-obscure-now-mainstream-popular band must feel. Give me some credit! I’ve been a fan since the beginning! But in truth, so many readers were instantly captured by Stacy’s talent the moment she stepped onto the scene with her runaway success A Flicker in the Dark. And over the last three books I’ve loved watching her star rise higher and higher in the thriller world. With the release of Only If You’re Lucky, a novel about the heady feeling of burgeoning female friendship, she is destined to please her most hardcore fans and bring in a legion of new ones.

Only If You’re Lucky follows Margot, a shy freshman at a liberal arts college in South Carolina still reeling from the death of her high school best friend. When Margot meets Lucy, she’s instantly drawn to her. What Willingham does best is to capture perfectly the scary, beautiful, intense feeling that so many women can relate to of falling head over heels in platonic love with a new female friend. But what starts as a promising new relationship and a fresh start for Margot quickly turns dark when a frat boy is murdered and Lucy goes missing, leaving Margot squarely at the center of the fallout…

A singular entry into the dark academia canon, I can’t wait to see readers’ reactions to every last twist!

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Member ratings (2,885)

  • Ashli C.

    Boone, NC

    Stacy Willingham quickly became one of my new favorite authors with her debut of Flicker in the Dark. This one wasn’t quite as “can’t-put-down able” as her first two books, but still a great read!

  • Rebecca B.

    Bakersfield , CA

    I loved all the secrets and drama that unfolded in this story and loved that I didn’t see the twists coming. Stacy Willingham really knows how to hold your attention while her stories are unraveling.

  • Ani B.

    Rochester , WA

    Loved her previous books too but this one was so much better! Impossible to put down! Twists were all very well done. Can’t wait for more from this author. Great pacing, human characters, eeverything

  • Terry P.

    Benton, PA

    This book is fantastic and brought back my past when I was very involved in Greek life in college. The writing is poetic while also very real and relatable. I was on the edge of my seat with this one!

  • Lillian G.

    Ventnor, NJ

    This was an intriguing story and I liked that it switched from past to present. I found that by doing so, it built even more suspense. I think this story was crafted nicely and was easy to get hooked.

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