Thursday, August 3, 2017

book journal: The Lucky Ones by Julianne Pachico

The backstory: The Lucky Ones is longlisted for the 2017 Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize.

The basics:  "A literary jigsaw puzzle of a debut novel set in Colombia during the peak of its decades-long conflict, and in New York City."-publisher

My thoughts: When this year's First Novel Prize longlist was announced, I'd already read two. The Lucky Ones was the first one I picked up from the longlist, so I had high expectations. I started it on my lunch break. The first chapter left me breathless; it was extraordinary. It, and many of the other stories, were originally published as short stories, and it shows. Some chapters are stronger than others, and the order certainly matters. Pachico uses names sparingly, and I spent the first parts of most chapters trying to figure out who the narrator was and if/when I'd read about them before. I enjoy non-linear stories told in this way, and I enjoyed it (for the most part) in this novel. I was hoping for the final chapter to bring more cohesion to the novel, and instead it added more questions. While I think this choice was intentional, and it certainly mimics reality, I found myself turning the last page disappointed and still wanting more.

After I finished, I kept puzzling over this novel. It has certainly kept me thinking and trying to articulate what I wish would have been different. I have some ideas, but I also respect the boldness of Pachico's decisions. When I finished this novel, I rated it 3.5, but as I keep thinking about it and recommending it to people (not only so someone will talk to me about it), I realized it is at least a 4 star read. It's not a perfect book, but it is an incredibly accomplished book. It's smart. It's bold. The first chapter is superb and worth reading, whether on its own or as the beginning (of sorts) of this puzzle of a novel.

The verdict: The Lucky Ones is at times brilliant, but ultimately it wasn't as good as I think it could have (and should have) been. It is, however, a book worth reading, as it won't leave my brain. I will be first in line to read whatever Pachico decides to publish next. She's extraordinarily talented.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 272 pages
Publication date: March 7, 2017
Source: library

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Lucky Ones from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Julianne Pachico's website and follow her on Twitter.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

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