I sat down tonight to write the long-overdue (glowing, by the way) review of Katherine Center's Get Lucky
. I pulled the book off the shelf and noticed the copy of Everyone is Beautiful
that I had purchased immediately after finishing Get Lucky
(but then I got distracted re-reading The Count of Monte Cristo
; what can I say?). So, I pulled that one off the shelf, too, thinking it would be my reward after finishing my review.
Why don't I know better by now?
Apparently there is something about Katherine Center's books that grab me at a visceral level and refuse to let me go until I have slurped up every last touching word (and cried a little while doing so). So it's now about 3 hours later and I've finished Everyone is Beautiful
and will now write my review of Get Lucky
as my offering of gratitude for being inspired, shamed, comforted, terrified, and reassured.
The novel Get Lucky
, is, as Center has said, about many things - sisters, babies, losing and finding yourself, parents, loss, giving, grief, best friends, love, and, of course, breasts. At the start of the novel, the protagonist, Sarah, is a high-powered ad exec in NYC, running a bra campaign. And she goes a little nuts when her sister, Mackie, forwards a link that contains hundreds of pictures of breasts. This crazy manifests in Sarah sending the link to everyone at work, and, unsurprisingly, getting fired for it. She rationalizes it a little, the way you do, and packs up for a Thanksgiving visit home to Houston.
En route, she runs into a high school boyfriend whose heart she'd crushed. She hopes for the kind of reunion we all hope for, years later. Unfortunately, Everett gives her an unexpected jab. We'll meet Everett again - he's also taken a job working with Sarah's brother-in-law.
Upon arrival in Houston, Sarah is greeted with the news that Mackie and her husband, after many trials and tribulations of infertility, have decided to stop trying. Out of her own despair and love and maybe a little desperation to have a reason (after losing the job that filled that role in her life), Sarah decides to be the surrogate for her sister. She thinks it will be a quick, easy gift, after which she will go dashing back to her real life. I've never had kids, but I've watched almost all my friends go through pregnancies and childbirth and even I knew this wasn't going to happen... but I could sympathize with the desire to cling to the comforting belief that it would.
So, Sarah gets pregnant and Mackie is somewhere between a healthy-pregnancy dictator and the saddest person in the world - who has to be both grateful and supportive while her sister goes though the joys and pains of the pregnancy Mackie wishes were her own - such as when her new stepmother (you just have to read it to meet Dixie) throws a baby shower, but none of the guests really pay any attention to Mackie - Sarah is, after all, the one with the belly.
During all this, Sarah discovers a liking for Everett, and the desperate need not to be just a pampered pregnancy. She gets a job trying to save a doomed historic library, which saves her just as certainly.
I'm leaving out so much that is important - Sarah's crazy hormonal...something...for Mackie's husband, the back and forth with Everett and the pool-house renter Barni, J.J. (the boss who'd fired her in New York) and the star (pitiful Veronica/April) of the bra campaign, plus Mackie and Sarah's dad, who'd pretty much just stopped when their mom died and his return to life with the unlikely love of pure-Texas Dixie. It seems like too much to fit into a quick-reading 270ish pages. And yet Center weaves it all together into a completely vivid tapestry that has all the mess and color of real life.
Sarah isn't completely likeable. In fact, none of the characters are. On the other hand, nobody's completely what you expect either. So, we like them anyway. And that means that when Sarah, inevitably, grows a little sadder, and a little happier, and a little more thoughtful, and a little more compassionate through the book, we're all doing the same with her.
Despite sobbing most of the time I was reading the book - so many of my own personal pain was reflected at me by this book - I enjoyed its gentle realism and the hope that it leaves for real people to find happiness in themselves.
Title: Get Lucky
Author: Katherine Center
Obtained from: purchased
Labels: book review