How Lucky is a novel by author Will Leitch that centers Daniel, a man with SMA, who is regulated to a wheelchair and using technology to talk. As his body has grown weaker, he's brought in a regular aid to his home in Athens, Georgia but Daniel's friend Travis also takes pretty good care of him. Daniel doesn't get much time outside because of his condition and so when he can spend time on his porch, he does. One day, he sees a student (he lives in a college town) get into a strange car. He thinks it's a bit weird, the car, the hat that no one with taste would wear...but thinks nothing of it. Not until he discovers that same girl is missing. And he might have been the last one to see her.
Like most thrillers, this starts off very slow, and it is in no ways fast paced or suspense-laden, so if you are just getting into the thriller genre or like a little comedic relief in your thrillers, this is a good choice. However, for the Ruth Ware lovers of the world, this may bore you a bit.
The idea of a disabled man, who has recently all but lost his ability to communicate verbally trying to find a missing woman is definitely a new one, which is why I chose to pick this up. And the methods that the author uses are very interesting. It was obvious he did a lot of research into SMA or knows about it personally. It was also kind of fun how Daniel breaks the 4th wall every so often, that's something you don't get in a lot of books nowadays.
I am very pleased with the representation of disabilities in this book, but the representation of color and of women was poor. And it was, in some instances, downright degrading. Not because of the way that the author, Leitch chose to write the characters, they were all fairly well-rounded (except for the stereotypical naive East-Asian woman trope). But the fact that the entire premise of this book stems from white saviorism is what got me. We leave the book feeling conflicted because of this. Asian student goes missing, Asians students rally and hold vigils, nothing happens. White students do it now it is local and state news. Whose the protagonist of the novel? A white man. The only people of color we see aren't in any roles of power, even on the collegiate level.
And just because the author is a white man does not excuse him of this, there are so many ways that this could have been pointed out...maybe they were. And while I know whiteness plays a point in his narrative and plot, seeing even a minor character of color have some power over something other than what type of beer she'll drink at the tailgate would have been nice. And that is another thing...all the people of color in the central cast were women while all the men were white. It gave off fetishization to me. However, if you have read How Lucky and disagree, feel free to point that out in the comments below.
Do you know of any books that center disabled characters where it is not a weakness but a strength? If so, drop some below, I would love to get more recs!