from the jacket:
In Erika Carter's fierce and darkly funny debut novel, Lucky You, three women in their early twenties find themselves aimlessly adrift in the Arkansas college town they've stuck around in too long. Ellie, Chloe, and Rachel are friends (sort of), waitresses at the same dive bar. Each is becoming unmoored in her own way: Ellie obliterates all feeling with alcohol and self-destructive acts of sexual promiscuity; Chloe pulls out patches of her hair and struggles to keep incipient mental illness at bay; changeable Rachel has fallen under the sway of a messianic boyfriend with whom she's agreed to live off-grid for a year in order to return to "health", and she asks Ellie and Chloe to join them in "The Project." In a remote, rural house in the Ozarks, nearly undone by boredom and the brewing tension between them, each tries to solve the conundrum of being alive.
By turns funny, knowing and hauntingly sad, Lucky You is a study in damage and detachment, a fearless portrait of three women at a crucial point in their lives. With startling exactitude and wickedly deadpan humor, it lays bare the emotional core of its characters with surgical precision. The writing is deft and controlled, as natural and unforced as breath--which makes it impossible to look away.
At Your Own Risk
The ATTICUS REVIEW
If You Steal From Here
DEEP SOUTH MAGAZINE
Not This Human Sadness
The Great Barrier Reef
The COLORADO REVIEW
The SOUTH CAROLINA REVIEW
The confusion of early adulthood, and balancing skepticism with sensitivity.
"I've always had a thing for disco balls."
Otherppl with Brad Listi
Reviews and Praise for Lucky You
"Lucky You is a marvel of a book, partly because Carter does a perfect job balancing humor and tragedy. The funny moments bring to mind the fiction of Mary Robison and Ann Beattie; the darker ones are reminiscent of Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays. Her humor is dry, and never at the expense of her characters...She is deft at describing how it feels to be young and at loose ends, living in a college town and entertaining half-hearted thoughts about someday moving out. Carter has written a wonderful novel, intelligent but unpretentious. As an author, she's both unsparing and compassionate, and among her greatest gifts is an ability to find a savage kind of beauty in the unlikeliest of places."
----Michael Schaub, NPR
“Carter’s ambitious debut novel delves into the ennui that comes with being young and unsure… Carter’s no-nonsense prose is darkly witty, lacking the self-indulgence or mean-spiritedness often seen in stories about modern youth… Carter’s compassion for her lost young women is clear, and the story never falters from the starkly realistic trajectories marked out for the protagonists. The result is a clever and honest look at the consequences of youthful malaise.”
"Lucky You is a wry and unflinching portrait of three young women navigating dark and complicated issues of love and sex and loneliness, depicted with a sharply observant eye, precision prose, wicked humor and courageous insights into the hearts of these characters. This is a powerful and touching book written with the wisdom and control of a seasoned novelist, and Erika Carter has announced herself with a bold, honest, and emotionally scorching debut."
----Nic Pizzolatto, creator of HBO series True Detective
"The 'you' in this novel's title might refer to the reader, who's lucky to have discovered this book. Sexy, wise, wryly funny, it covers two years in the lives of three young women searching for -- what? -- love, health, happiness, or any combination of the three. It's brilliantly observed and masterfully paced, and its voice will resonate long after the last page. You lucky, lucky reader."
----Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
"In Erika Carter's coolly enigmatic debut, Lucky You, three 20-something waitresses desperately need to get their lives together. Ellie has taken to numbing her angst with booze and hookups. During fits of anxiety, Chloe literally pulls out her hair. And Rachel's feeble stabs at happiness entail bending to the will of a seductive amateur guru. Their solution? Bolt the college town where things have veered off course and take up residence together in a remote mountain cabin. Suffice it to say, problem not solved."
----O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine
"With Lucky You, Erika Carter has written a magnificent novel that pitches and swirls forward as love stories pivot toward heartbreak, power poisons sex, drunkenness turns to sobriety and back to drunkenness again, and misguided people search for things that aren’t to be found, from dark basement bars to the rolling wooded landscape of the Arkansas Ozarks. Lucky You is an utterly captivating novel, written in precise, surprising sentences with a charge so electric they snap across the page like lightning."
----Benjamin Hale, author of The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore
"Carter’s sharp debut novel reads like a long-remembered nightmare, eerily realistic and subtly horrifying… Off-grid-living stories have become quite popular as of late and Lucky You is a nice addition to the canon… Readers will be hard-pressed to put the book down as the girls make their breaks back to civilization."
"Lucky You is electrifying and atmospheric, hilarious and wrenching, surprising and somehow deeply familiar. Erika Carter is a true talent."
----Jennifer DuBois, author of Cartwheel
"Erika Carter has that rare combination of tough intelligence--almost, as it were, the rough straightforward shrewdness of old-style city-beat newspaper writers--and the musical sensual subtle touch of the poet. Her story of these three young women will keep you reading, and you won't soon forget them. What a marvelously talented young writer."
----Richard Bausch, author of Before, During, After
"If your fever dream of going off-grid remains unfulfilled, sublimate with Erika Carter's chillingly adroit debut novel, Lucky You, about three twentysomethings who, bored with life in a college town, move to the no-paced Ozarks--- where life lessons in sexual tension, isolation, and personal foibles shift into fast-forward."
"Erika Carter’s debut novel is sparse, beautiful, and often very funny. Her darkness and concision bring to mind the kind of writers who excel at making the tragic just comic enough that you forget to cry. This is a novel for anyone who has dreamed about leaving her life behind to live in an Eden – but who also knows that real change comes from looking within. No cabin in the woods is a magic bullet. Lucky You reminds us that the only way out is through."
----Rachel Syme, Book of the Month Club
"The most beautiful novels read like fevered whispers, a shared secret, and Carter’s prose lingers like that. For a book that features haikus, the novel has some of that style, desperately distilling life down to our dreams and desires."
—Joshua Mohr, author of All This Life
"By turns dark and funny, Lucky You is a stunningly honest novel about the inner lives of three women. Sexy, risky, with a pleasurably dangerous tension. Erika Carter’s writing is effortlessly remarkable."
—Janis Cooke Newman, author of A Master Plan for Rescue
“Throughout the novel, Carter’s language is surprising, even tactile… A melancholy, elliptical tale of friendship and alienation in the South.”
"Carter’s book isn’t about traditional friendship so much as the tragedy of American late-stage capitalism—where it’s often easier to pull those around you down instead of up, cooler to wallow together over the difficulty of attaining supposed “life goals,” simpler to connect over misplaced shame instead of trying to change an obviously failed system. As a novel about detached youth, Lucky You absolutely fits the bill."
---Michelle Hogmire, BOMB Magazine
"The paradoxes of femininity in painful blossom are portrayed believably here, and they make for absorbing reading. The many girl-flavored miseries of the book are tempered with pleasure, from the perverse comfort of depression (“she could hide in it and no one could find her”) to the blunt satisfaction of a brutal affair (“the pain was as intense as pleasure”), to the sense of easy superiority that turns on a dime and becomes self-loathing (“she cringed at her stupidity”). And Carter’s gift is in drawing these contradictions wryly, wisely, and seemingly without effort."
--Nina Renata Aron, Full Stop
"Being a 20-something isn't easy. Just ask the three listless Arkansas waitresses in Lucky You. When one decides to go off the grid, the other two go, too. Alone, they are forced to deal with their various demons-- in this rich and observant debut-- for better or worse."
"In Lucky You, as well as in her short fiction, Carter deftly shapes women who are deeply human. She uncovers the darkest parts of her characters, exposing every trick they employ to escape and anesthetize against life. She also shows us their softest spots, their most vulnerable places. Both unflinching and compassionate, Carter’s writing has a sense of quiet urgency that kept me quickly turning page after page, gobbling the book up over the course of one day."
---Victoria Russell, The Rumpus
“With lean and impressionistic prose, Erika Carter casts a most compelling light on three young women trying to bloom into their very selves. But this blooming is never easy, and Carter renders it gorgeously with street-wise compassion, grit, and a kind of dark, life-loving humor that is absolutely irresistible to read. Lucky You is not only a superb novel, it heralds a strong and authentic new voice among us. From here on out, I will read whatever Erika Carter writes!”
—Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author of Townie
Past Readings and Events for Lucky You
Listen to Erika's interview with Victoria Russell on Perennials Podcast
Lucky You reviewed this month in Marie Claire
Read an interview with Erika by Book of the Month Club
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