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If You're Lucky

If You're Lucky

3.5 4
by Yvonne Prinz

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Is Georgia’s mind playing tricks on her, or is the entire town walking into the arms of a killer who has everyone but her fooled?

When seventeen-year-old Georgia’s brother drowns while surfing halfway around the world in Australia, she refuses to believe that Lucky’s death was just bad luck. Lucky was smart. He


Is Georgia’s mind playing tricks on her, or is the entire town walking into the arms of a killer who has everyone but her fooled?

When seventeen-year-old Georgia’s brother drowns while surfing halfway around the world in Australia, she refuses to believe that Lucky’s death was just bad luck. Lucky was smart. He wouldn’t have surfed in waters more dangerous than he could handle. Then a stranger named Fin arrives in False Bay, claiming to have been Lucky’s best friend. Soon Fin is working for Lucky’s father, charming Lucky’s mother, dating Lucky’s girlfriend. Georgia begins to wonder: Did Fin murder her brother in order to take over his whole life?  
Determined to clear the fog from her mind in order to uncover the truth about Lucky’s death, Georgia secretly stops taking the medication that keeps away the voices in her head. She is certain she’s getting closer and closer to the truth about Fin, but as she does, her mental state becomes more and more precarious, and no one seems to trust what she’s saying. 
As the chilling narrative unfolds, the reader must decide whether Georgia’s descent into madness is causing her to see things that don’t exist—or to see the deadly truth.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seventeen-year-old Georgia is the dark shadow to the bright star that was her free-spirited older brother, Lucky. When Lucky dies in a surfing accident in Australia, everyone in Georgia’s coastal Northern California town is deep in mourning—until a boy named Fin shows up, claiming to have been Lucky’s best friend, and charms everyone from Georgia’s parents to Lucky’s girlfriend. Soon Fin has taken hold of Lucky’s former life and all that went with it, causing Georgia to grow suspicious about his role in Lucky’s death. Her diagnosis as paranoid schizophrenic makes it difficult for anyone to give her suspicions any credit, however. As Georgia endeavors to separate truth from hallucination after she stops taking her medication, Prinz (The Vinyl Princess) forces readers to do the same. The story’s major conflict and the accompanying complications pressing in on Georgia are resolved in a blink, but Georgia’s suspicious mind is a fascinating place to spend time, and the steady internal monologue at the heart of this moody mystery will keep readers hooked. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Smart, sarcastic, and wickedly insightful, If You're Lucky is a remarkable page-turner. The tense coils of its dangerously tightening clock spring keep readers wondering, twist by twist, if Georgia's universe will simply burst apart.” —Andrew Smith, author of Grasshopper Jungle 
“A solid page turner.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A hold-on-to-your-seat thriller . . . Prinz does an excellent job building suspense and bending reality as Georgia, haunted by ghosts and troubling dreams, slowly uncovers the truth. . . . As she tries to make sense of what is happening, Georgia’s courage in the face of isolation from the people around her is poignant. Prinz has created a memorable character who must battle her demons, inside and out.”—Quill & Quire
“Georgia’s suspicious mind is a fascinating place to spend time . . . this moody mystery will keep readers hooked.”Publishers Weekly
“Well-developed characters, a charming ocean-front oyster village, and a remarkable expose into mental illness make for an unusual. . . YA murder mystery.”—Booklist
 “The setting, with its overcast feel and chill in the air, is an apt metaphor for Georgia’s state of mind. The protagonist ranks among the best of unreliable narrators in YA literature, leaving readers uncertain, confused, and utterly absorbed. . . Give this dark, broody novel to psychological drama fans and teens who enjoy books by Alex Flinn, David Klass, Pete Hautman, and Gail Gile.”—School Library Journal
“Harrowing...a perfectly pitched blossoming thriller.” Lewis Buzbee, author of The Haunting of Charles Dickens

If You’re Lucky is a perfectly calibrated mystery that’s heart-racing, emotionally precise and spellbindingly good. Prinz writes with true velocity and in this book of secrets every page that turns cranks up the tension and every sentence pulls the suspense tighter. The truth that’s lurking in False Bay is gripping and disturbing and well worth the foggy ride into the darkness.” —Stereo Embers Magazine
VOYA, October 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 4) - Lucy Schall
Seventeen-year-old Georgia, a paranoid schizophrenic, suspects that Finn, a charismatic stranger who claims to be her dead brother’s close friend, killed him. Finn gains the trust of her parents and employers, as well as the love of her brother’s girlfriend. Georgia’s mental illness history discredits her claims, and when she discards her medication to process events more clearly, both Georgia and the reader struggle to distinguish truth from delusion. Her physical deterioration and increasingly shrill and threatening certainty reinforces Finn’s credibility in the community. She loses her friends, her home, and her job. Will she also lose her life? Georgia’s page-turning pursuit of truth will keep the attention of mystery lovers but will also stimulate discussion about mental illness and a victim’s life challenges. As Georgia deteriorates physically and mentally, her fight sometimes strains belief. She eludes family and small town eyes even though she visits familiar spots, and Finn, who seems to see her wherever and whenever she spies on him, does not find her until the climax. The street-wise friend who helps her seems to know nothing about her plight. However, if the reader can overlook the questionable events, the short chapters, a fast moving plot, and a feel-good but not unbelievable ending make this a strong choice for young adult senior high girls, especially those needing hi-lo reads. Reviewer: Lucy Schall; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Georgia's schizophrenic mind sees a suspicious link between the accidental sudden death of her beloved older brother Lucky in a surfing accident and his attractive friend Fin's charming way of inserting himself into Lucky's former life. Her paranoia increases as she goes off her medication, bringing readers along for her fevered observations, raw feelings, and strange hallucinations in tandem with the ongoing action. Georgia is convinced that Fin killed Lucky and she is the only one who recognizes the danger. Coastal, small-town Northern California is an appropriate setting. The possibilities suggested by the wide, grandiose beaches contrast with the constant sense of obligation and servitude experienced by the well-drawn middle class locals who work within the demeaning tourist trade. The prevalent chill in the air is an apt metaphor for Georgia's state of mind.The protagonist ranks among the best of unreliable narrators in YA literature, leaving readers uncertain, confused, and utterly absorbed. The target audience for this title is questionable: though the story is relatively clean suspense without gore or horror, many of the characters are in their mid-20s or older, with accompanying concerns and issues. Georgia's life is strikingly empty of normal teenage concerns and behaviors. VERDICT Psychological drama fans of Alex Flinn, David Klass, Pete Hautman, and Gail Giles may enjoy this dark, broody novel.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
A deeply intuitive teen struggles to discover the truth behind her brother's death. Georgia, a 17 year-old aspiring pastry chef in Northern California, hero-worshiped her carefree, globe-trotting older brother, Lucky, whose death in a surfing accident in Australia comes as a world-shattering event. It triggers an emotional avalanche for Georgia, whose life goes from routinized and responsible to grief-stricken, unspooling into paranoia. Prinz carefully plants allusions to events in Georgia's past and to her present medication schedule, so that the revelation of her schizophrenia diagnosis is not at all surprising. When one of Lucky's friends, a handsome charmer introducing himself as Fin, shows up for a memorial party and stays, everyone waves away her suspicion as just so much "weird" behavior. As Fin gets a job in town, starts taking Lucky's dog for walks, and even woos Lucky's girlfriend, Georgia questions Fin's presence and grows convinced that he is responsible for Lucky's death. Her investigation—including an unwise insistence on discontinuing her medication against her doctor's orders and relying on the ensuing auditory and visual hallucinations to guide her—will force readers to wonder about their own possible biases against taking the concerns of mentally ill people seriously. An author's note provides further information and resources on schizophrenia. Prinz produces a solid page-turner. (Thriller. 14-18)

Product Details

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt


The phone rang at four o’clock in the morning. Someone on the other end said that Lucky was dead.

And just like that I was big brotherless.

I didn’t cry.

Life without my brother had never even occurred to me. Not once. Sure, I’d become accustomed to little pieces of him disappearing: the tip of his finger to a rock-climbing rope; a chunk of his calf to a baby shark; a front tooth to a ski slope. Lucky’s body was a road map of scars. Even his face was covered in nicks and healed-over cuts and faint pinkish railroad tracks from long-gone stitches. That was all fine with me, exciting even, because to me he was indestructible, and because he always came home eventually with more stories and more scars. He always came home until now.

The day before the phone call, I was thinking about how every Christmas I would put a fresh box of Band-Aids in his stocking. He always laughed on Christmas morning when he tore the wrapping paper off the little box. I got him Simpsons Band-Aids one year and Scooby-Doo another; Popeye; Cowboys; Spider Man. There was already a box of Flintstones Band-Aids stashed away in my closet for the coming Christmas and I know just what he would say if he were around to open it: “Yabba, dabba, doo!” and then he’d toss it on the pile with the rest of the gear Santa would always bring him. That’s how it was: Lucky got gear. I got books. I went digging through Lucky’s things that day, the day we got the news, and I found seven unused boxes of Band-Aids lined up in a neat row in a shoebox under his bed. I still didn’t cry.

My own scars are different. My body is a desert of soft white skin embellished with small smoothed-over cuts and tears and burns. I don’t remember how all of them got there, but the ones I do remember make me wince with embarrassment. I’m the opposite of Lucky. I was born without the thrill-seeking gene. I stick close to home. Heights make me dizzy; the ocean, in my mind, can’t be trusted; I despise polar fleece, and I can’t see a thing without my contacts in. Some might think Lucky would have been the one my parents worried about, but that wasn’t the case. They never seemed to worry about him. It’s always been me. Even now, years later, they still look at me with worry in their eyes.

Lucky, on the other hand, had an effortless star quality that made my parents want to be near him. My mom laughed like a teenager when he was around and my dad started making ambitious plans again. There was always stuff everywhere when Lucky was home: camping gear, surfboards, bikes, skateboards, wet suits hanging on the line. There was a happy buzz in our house. Anyone could see that Lucky was my mom and dad’s favorite, and I didn’t even mind. He was my favorite too. My brother squeezed his big world into our tiny house and made everything seem more exciting, but for me it was more than that. The thing I loved most about Lucky was that he made me feel normal.

Lucky never had much regard for time zones, and besides, it was understood that no matter what time it was or where he was, he should call if there was trouble. The phone ringing in the dead of night was a pretty common occurrence at our house. This time it was different though. Through the wall I could hear the muffled sound of my mom answering, alert even though she’d been asleep for hours. I heard her say “No No No” and then I heard her shake my dad awake. I knew it was bad. She’d never done that before. My dad has to be at the oyster farm by seven.

“My baby!” my mom wailed. The sound was horrible. My heart thumped in my chest but I was paralyzed. I stayed there in my bed, listening.

I heard my dad take the phone. “What is it? What’s happened?” he asked.

Lucky had drowned while surfing in Australia at a place called Kirra Beach in Coolangatta in Queensland. I heard my dad talking to them, getting all the details. Then he hung up the phone and started to sob.

Lucky was twenty-two when he died. I’d known him for seventeen years.

Meet the Author

YVONNE PRINZ is the award-winning author of The Vinyl Princess and All You Get Is Me. A Canadian living in the San Francisco Bay Area, she is the cofounder of Amoeba Music, the world’s largest independent music store.

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If You're Lucky 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book sounds very good for me to read does it have any bad words in it if it does then i can't read this read because i don't say bad words because im one of those peopl who do not say any bad words when i get upset then i will use some bad words and when i do something wrong then the bad words will come out
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
In what is a rarity in young adult books, the topic of schizophrenia is tackled head-on in “If You’re Lucky”, a taut thriller that leaves the readers as confused as the narrator as to what is real and what is not. Georgia, the main character, is a teenager with paranoid schizophrenia who is dealing with the loss of her brother Lucky, the town’s golden boy. One of his best friends shows up to the memorial and creates a whirlwind of emotions for her. Georgia is an extremely well-developed character, and her descent into a schizophrenic episode is written beautifully. It truly feels as though you are trying to navigate the world through the distortion in her mind. This adds a great deal of twists and turns to the mystery of what happened to Lucky. The rest of the characters are also well-developed and relatable, with my favorite being Fin. I won’t say anything else about him because it may ruin some of the reading experience. I loved the plot and found it to be the perfect mix of thriller and standard mystery. At some points I literally had goosebumps from the creepiness. However, the reason for me giving three stars instead of four is because of the plot. It seemed to begin slowly, and while the entire book is well-written, I didn’t realize I was actually into it until I was about a third of the way through. This points to a slight problem with the pacing. It would have been nice to add a bit of “oomph” to the setup. In spite of the slight pacing problem, I still wholeheartedly recommend “If You’re Lucky” to those who enjoy mysteries and thrillers. There is some adult content, but it is still a safe choice for middle schoolers and up as long as they’re not opposed to things that can be disturbing. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was a creepy one. Was this girl, Georgia seeing things or were they really there? Did Fin kill her brother or not? Was her dead brother trying to tell her something or not? Or was she just so totally off her meds that she was just seeing things that were not there? This was definitely a great read. I truly enjoyed it. I think it was written for YA's, but it's good for adults as well. It was definitely fast paced as I just kept ripping through the pages. To me, Fin seemed normal, but then he was everywhere. And Georgia was prone to having some strange dreams and you didn't know if they were dreams or not. And, of course, Georgia with her history, no one was believing her story that she thought Fin killed her brother and others. So that wasn't much help to her. Can you imagine knowing someone is a killer and no one believes you? Then to top it off, she thinks he's on to her and is after her. Where can she go help? No one believes her. I won't tell you what gave it away for me, you'll just have to read it and figure it out for yourself. But it is definitely worth reading and one you will not be able to put down. Thanks Algonquin Books and Net Galley for a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.