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How Lucky

How Lucky

The lone witness to an abduction tries to get skeptical police—and a skeptical society—to see past his wheelchair.

Like most residents of Athens, Georgia, 26-year-old Daniel looks forward to the escape of Game Week, when the University of Georgia plays football at home. Unlike most of them, however, Daniel has spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive genetic disorder that attacks the body from the core out. He can still move his left hand, which he uses to operate his wheelchair and type on an iPad that interfaces with his voice speaker and allows him to work on social media for a commuter airline. One morning Daniel sees a familiar young woman climb into a tan Camaro. After she's reported missing, he posts what he saw on Reddit and begins an email exchange with someone claiming to be the car’s driver. The members of a well-drawn, if spare, cast play supporting roles—Marjani, Daniel’s overworked caregiver; Travis, his lifelong best friend, who's “like a stoner Ichabod Crane”; Jennifer, the grad student who is “suddenly the matriarch of this weird little family”—but the story belongs to Daniel. He’s funny, often self-deprecating, and cleareyed about how many people perceive “someone who doesn’t seem to have control of any element of his body,” but he wants people to “remember there’s a person in here.” Leitch, who is abled, drew inspiration from his young son’s friend who was diagnosed with SMA as a toddler, and the best parts of the book are the reflective, informative passages when Daniel is discussing his ever evolving relationship with his condition. The resolution of the mystery is neither surprising nor terribly realistic, but it’s not really the point here.


A lightweight thriller contours an earnest, sincere portrait of a hero whom many insist on seeing as a victim. - Sandy

"A fantastic novel. . . . You are going to like this a lot."--Stephen King

"What's more thrilling than a fictional character speaking to us in a voice we haven't heard before, a voice so authentic and immediate--think Huck Finn, Holden Caulfield, Mattie Ross--that we suspect it must've been there all along, that we somehow managed to miss it? Daniel, the protagonist of Will Leitch's smart, funny, heartbreaking new novel How Lucky, is just such a voice, and I'm not sure it will ever completely leave my head, or that I want it to."--Richard Russo

For readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Nothing to See Here, a first novel as suspenseful and funny as it is moving, the unforgettable story of a fiercely resilient young man living with a physical disability, and his efforts to solve a mystery unfolding right outside his door.

Daniel leads a rich life in the university town of Athens, Georgia. He's got a couple close friends, a steady paycheck working for a regional airline, and of course, for a few glorious days each Fall, college football tailgates. He considers himself to be a mostly lucky guy--despite the fact that he's suffered from a debilitating disease since he was a small child, one that has left him unable to speak or to move without a wheelchair.

Largely confined to his home, Daniel spends the hours he's not online communicating with irate air travelers observing his neighborhood from his front porch. One young woman passes by so frequently that spotting her out the window has almost become part of his daily routine. Until the day he's almost sure he sees her being kidnapped...

Publication Date: 
May 11, 2021