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If You're Lucky

by Yvonne Prinz

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thrillers & suspense, mental illness, siblings
list price: $23.95
also available: Paperback
published: 2015
publisher: Algonquin Books
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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
14 to 18
9 to 12
Reading age:
15 to 18
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“A hold-on-to-your-seat thriller.” —Quill & Quire
When Georgia’s brother drowns while surfing halfway around the world in Australia, she refuses to believe that Lucky’s death was just bad luck. 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?
To uncover the truth about Lucky’s death, Georgia secretly stops taking the medication that keeps away the voices in her head. But as her suspicion grows, her mental state becomes more and more precarious. 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?

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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.

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Editorial Review

“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

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About the Author

Yvonne Prinz

YVONNE PRINZ is the author of several books, including the Clare series and The Vinyl Princess, which won the California Library Association’s John and Patricia Beatty Award, was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award for Crime Fiction and was named to Resource Links’ Year’s Best of 2010 list. A Canadian living in San Francisco, she is the co-founder of Amoeba Music, the world’s largest independent music store.

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