So Lucky by Nicola Griffith follows Mara’s journey.
When we meet Mara, she’s at the top of her game in a lot of ways. She heads up an AIDS Foundation. While she’s at the end of her marriage with her wife, a longtime friendship may be turning into more. She’s also an accomplished martial artist and enjoys feeling how powerful her body is within those moves.
In the midst of her busy life, Mara finds out that she has multiple sclerosis (MS). Suddenly, her brain and body stop communicating at the level it had before, leading to stumbles and worse.
The feeling that her body has betrayed her is alarming. Prepping for a powerful kick at her dojo, her legs give out. When going places, she quickly sees that many places are not really easily accessible to people who have disabilities.
There are a lot of things to like about this book. In particular, Mara’s messy emotions that come with the diagnosis. Mara is not one to sit on the back porch with a glass of iced sweet tea and give words of wisdom on this new lease on life she’s magically obtained. Instead, she gets angry and cannot hold it in. As Mara moves through the stages of grief, she sits in the anger stage for a very long time. And to be honest, I probably would, too.
One thing So Lucky could do without is the murder subplot.
In this tight, concise novel that is almost perfect in every other way, the murder subplot seems almost superfluous. It’s not needed and takes away from Mara’s journey into herself in dealing with MS.
Author Nicola Griffith also deals with MS. While the book itself is fictional, the experience with MS is not. It’s interesting to read about and get that perspective that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
It’s also a book that is on the Tournament of Books, brought to you by The Morning News! This is a competition in which we take the previous year’s best books, pit them against each other, March Madness style, bring in a number of guest judges, and see who comes out on top.
The title So Lucky could be taken one of two ways. It could be sarcastic, a snide cursing of the universe that saddled Mara with MS. But it could also be genuine. It could be that Mara, through the course of dealing with MS, has realized that she’s lucky in a lot of ways, including community and surprising friendships and activism. Though the conditions aren’t ideal, she finds that she’s just so damn lucky to live in this messy, horrible, complicated, but sometimes beautiful world.
So Lucky is actually enjoyable, which is an odd thing to say about a book of this nature, but I enjoyed it.
Published May 2018
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