ARC Review: The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson

Title: The Lucky Ones
Author: Liz Lawson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 352 Pages
Published April 2020

Summary: May is a survivor. But she doesn't feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn't know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through--no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her. Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister...and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won't let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night. The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band. Which is how May meets Zach. And how Zach meets May. And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all.

[CW: This book discusses the aftermath of a school shooting.]

I received an advanced copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, and I'm so glad that I did, because I ended up really enjoying this story. It was hard-hitting, emotional, and actually really sweet at parts, and I settled in with this book and tore through it because I was just that invested. So without further ado, let's get into my review! 

As the summary explains, May has been classified as one of "the lucky ones". One of the students who survived the school shooting that day -- particularly the only student that walked out of the band room alive. Even though she's scarred by the painful memories of that day, and the loss of her twin brother...and secrets that she doesn't even know yet. Everyone praises her for being a survivor, but May feels like anything but. She feels like she's drowning with no way out. That is, until she meets Zach and starts becoming friends with him, and maybe feeling more. There's just one slight issue...Zach's mom is the lawyer who is representing the school shooter in the upcoming trial.


I really, really enjoyed reading this book. It gave me an interesting glimpse into a side of the school shootings that the media tends to forget -- the survivors, which are so quickly ignored once the sensational news stories fade. There are always the people left behind -- the parents, the teachers, the principals, the students, and especially the siblings. May didn't just lose friends and her favorite teacher that day. She didn't just lose her sense of safety and security. She lost her twin brother. And wow, was that an emotional journey to take with her.

The way grief is tackled in this book was something that I especially appreciated. My mom lost her dad in a tragic accident when she was a kid, and one of the things I always remembered her talking about was the way that her grief manifested into anger, and that she found herself lashing out and being really sharp and cruel to friends who didn't particularly deserve it. Seeing that in May was actually really important to me, because often grief in characters during scenarios such as this is manifested in shock, or being withdrawn, or throwing themselves heads-first into memorializing the dead. Not to say that these are not all valid reactions -- but it's very rare, at least in my own reading experience, to see grief manifested as so much anger. Reading May felt a lot like seeing how my mom must have felt and interacted with people while she was grieving as a teenager. As sharp and jagged as May was towards her friends, you really got to see where she was coming from. 

Overall, I really enjoyed The Lucky Ones. The exploration of grief, the strong foundations of friendship, and the bravery of taking a chance on a person even when you feel like your world is ending were all really inspiring facets of the story that kept me drawn in. If you're looking for an emotional read that will hook you from start to finish, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up!



  1. I'm so happy to read your great review. I've been thinking of reading this ever since I saw people talking about it online. May sounds so human. Many people handle grief in different ways, but most of the time, it's a struggle to deal with it without hurting others. Grief really does manifest in anger or withdrawal, and I'm glad that this book tackles that. Survivor's guilt is an overwhelming emotion after all.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    jillian @ jillian etc.

  2. Oh wow!! This sounds like such an emotional book, but those are the kinds of books I usually love. I'm glad you liked it. I have a copy of it and am hoping to read it soon.


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