Wednesday, June 23, 2021

How Lucky by Will Leitch


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I saw this last month in my BOTM selections and decided to take a chance. After finishing it, I think this is a novel that is a "word of mouth" kind of novel. It's touching, funny, suspenseful, and has an incredible main character. 

Daniel is twenty-six and lives by himself in Athens, Georgia. He is wheelchair bound with SMA (spinal muscular atrophy); a degenerative neuromuscular disorder. It will kill him at a young age. The fact that he's made it to twenty-six is a testament to his strength, support, and just good luck. 

Daniels spends his days as an online customer service rep for a regional airline. He's limited to just using his left hand to work his iPad, but he makes it work and has adapted as he has slowly lost his ability to speak and the use of his right hand and arms. He's got his friend Travis who visits weekly and helps take care of him and treats him as a normal person; Marjani is his caregiver who comes every morning to get him dressed, fed, and in his chair. He has two helpers who come in the middle of the night to turn him in his bed so he doesn't choke. 

I know. It sounds horrible. But Daniel is not a pity party at all. He's always looking on the bright side, and grateful for everyday he wakes up. 

One morning, Daniel is sitting on his front porch, and observes a young Chinese college student walking along the street. She's been regularly doing this, and Daniel knows her schedule. This one day, a car approaches and stops. She bends down, smiles, then gets in the car. Strange, thought Daniel. 

He was right. Ai-Chin has disappeared, and across the college campus, alarms are raised and search parties are formed. A hotline is set up with the police. No one knows what happened. Except Daniel. 

He enlists Travis' help, but the police are slow to respond, and just being in Daniel's company makes them very uncomfortable. What could Daniel possibly know to help them? 

Daniel persists and posts online--and he gets a response that sends this tale off in another direction. Is he playing with fire? Is he in danger?

The kidnapping is just part of the story. Daniel's life and how he lives it is another. He always says he is lucky. Lucky to have lived. He also says he is lucky because he knows he'll die before he will have to experience losing loved ones, and he won't have to grieve. He'll go first.  Oh, that got me in the heart. He's a funny, thoughtful, smart character. 

I'd recommend this novel for anyone who is looking for disability focused characters and plot. It's also just a good story; one that will keep you engaged as Daniel races to help find Ai-Chin, and puts himself in danger doing so. He's no scaredy cat! 

Rating: 5/6 for a strong central character who sees no limits in his life; a twist at the end, and a loveable cast of characters. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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