Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Only If You're Lucky by Stacy Willingham

Only If You're Lucky
Stacy Willingham
Published January 16, 2024

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.

A tantalizing thriller about the nature of friendship and belonging, about loyalty, envy, and betrayal—another gripping novel from an author quickly becoming the gold standard in psychological suspense.

5 Stars

I love stories about the toxic relationships girls and women have, because they're realistic in ways many of us do not want to admit. The things we give into, the bullying we allow, the pervasive desire to be like one another or be better. In Only if You're Lucky, Stacy Willingham tells the story of enigmatic Lucy and the desperate to start over Margot. Life seems beautiful, like popularity and all the trappings of it are at Margot's feet. Lucy, however, leaves a dust in her wake that has Margot questioning everything. Is she who she says she is, or are they all pawns in the personal broadway show?

This one was as twisted as it comes, with Willingham taking us on a wild, dark academia journey through the perspective of Margot. We see her naivety, her desperate desire to fit in, her broken heart over her best friend she lost prior to beginning college. We also, from her perspective alone, see the beautiful Lucy, the other friends they share a home with, and the partying fraternity brothers next door, including Margot's former friend's ex. It's twisted as it sounds and so perfectly college. What's also twisted? The truths hidden and the lies mixed into every word. Nothing is as it seems and as a thriller fan, I loved that I couldn't figure this one entirely out. There are loose strings, there is horror on these pages, and yet I could not put it down. These are the sort of characters you hate to love and a story that requires only one sitting. This one sucked me in and I need everyone to read it now.

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