A review of Rachel Edwards’ second novel, “Lucky”.
I really did feel lucky when I received a beautiful early edition of Rachel Edwards’ second novel to review.
Rachel’s first novel, “Darling”, was one of the first books I read during my year of reading solely Black authors. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing her for a young persons’s book club since, and I’ve got to know an inspiring role model. As well as being a wonderful writer, Rachel is one of those women who really does empower women.
Right. I will try to make this concise…because there is a lot to say about this novel!
Like “Darling” there are some big, important themes running through this story. Mental health, addiction, social mobility, trust, betrayal, pride, the Windrush scandal…..and running beneath it all, the constant threat of covert racism, like the barely-there noises of a haunted house.
No spoilers. But this is the tale of a young Black British woman. Her name is Etta. She has a decent job, a nice relationship, a roof over her head, friends, interests…and she wants a little bit more for herself. She doesn’t want anything complicated, but the security of marriage and home ownership shouldn’t feel as out of reach as they do.
Etta makes some bad choices, especially when it comes to trying out an online bingo site and its chat room. They lead to more bad choices. And more. And more. She finds herself scrambling in a hole that she can’t climb out of. More holes appear. And more earth pours on top of her. She tries to dig her way out but things keep collapsing in on her.
She’s frightened of everything. Of the hidden threats leaving disturbing and subtle messages. Of the blatant betrayals. And most of all of her own mind. It’s so painful to read because it’s impossible not to love her!
Despite all of this, Etta finds time to give back to her community. There are twists and turns with the people she helps, and there is one particularly intriguing lost soul. He brings a ray of hope that gives this novel a lovely and forward-looking ending.
As I’ve come to expect from Rachel Edwards’ writing, her prose is intelligent and choiceful. I feel as though each sentence of “Lucky” is crafted. It makes it much more than a page-turning thriller.
I’d like to tell you about that this book in relation to anti-racism too.
Reading books by Black authors is an act of anti-racism itself. Choosing to make the world of literature more equitable is important. We’ve a long way to go to see authors of colour in the same platforms as their White counterparts.
More than that, I have yet to find a book by a Black author that doesn’t teach me something about society. It is impossible for a person of colour to live without the threat of prejudice, stereotyping, ignorance or racism – whether by individuals or by systems. By writing about Black characters, Black authors hold a mirror up to these experiences.
“Lucky” isn’t a book about racism. It’s a book about life, from the point of view of a Black British woman. And for a Black British woman, that includes racism.
Her Black friends have elderly relatives at risk of being sent away from Britain, where they were invited to live in the 1970s.
She is frightened by every bump in the night in case it’s a racist attack.
The union jack flag flying outside her neighbour’s house hers feels sinister.
Understanding that this is simply British life for some, unlocks the door to understanding the Black British existence and that’s a crucial step towards anti-racism. It helps to create empathy in people who are not affected by racism themselves.
So whoever you are, read “Lucky”. Read it for entertainment, for excitement (it makes your heart race!), read it for equity and read it for education.
Coming on 24th June 2021……let me know how you find it!